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Long Term/Abstract Thinking Issues

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#1 whiteelephant

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 05:40 PM


Hi all,

 

I wanted to tap into the collective wisdom on how to improve some lingering cognition issues that make my life a bit difficult.  Officially, I have diagnoses of add, anxiety, depression.  My VIQ is significantly higher than a comparatively low PIQ.  Since I was young, I remember not being able to focus well, couldn't recall the main detail of stories, but I'd then overfocus to compensate.  I've gotten better with concrete, structured tasks over the years and can survive in the settings. 

 

Apart from just task management, the big frustration is when trying to apply/anticipate how my interests translate into near and far term preferences and options.  Career-wise, I can be interested in the outcome of work, but then get very frustrated/bored by the process.  Sometimes, it feels like I either haven't thought through and kept in mind the essential details of some options, and instead got interested in some sporadic details.  I can get very motivated by instances and moments, but can't always recall/regenerate that excitement/enthusiasm into a larger focus.  So I was in research, and thought about going into psych research, but found that I found the data cleaning and conceptual inconsistency really tedious.  Same about health services research.  So while I've worked hard and achieved in the classroom, this hasn't translated to proportionate outcomes in achieving the same financial/life returns since I get stuck not advancing in any career.

 

Sometimes when I think about something abstractly, I'll have to read up on all the details just to get the context.  Otherwise, I can't infer the specifics.  Some people can just jump to a less time consuming starting point. 

 

Is this a lack of ability to think abstractly,  an executive function issue or something else?  Is this an executive function issue that matches ADD, something more like NVLD or something else?  What might help?

 

Exercise and good diet help me manage my mood, anxiety and energy.  Nothing has really touched this long term/abstract thinking issue.  Currently, I am on 2 mg Intuniv, 75 mg pristiq.  I take magnesium.  I was found to have a vit c deficiency and HPHPA imbalance and just finished a course of intermittment high dose probiotics and vanco.  Which doesn't seem to have done too much.

 

One ADD specialist says this sounds like an inability to keep a mental template in mind and recommended strattera.  This has helped me read books and get to the basic meaning much better.  But not necessarily manage that kind of directed focus.

 

I read research on internal directed attention, which suggests that the default mode network and the frontal/parietal cortex play significant roles.  But little research is done on how abstract/complex/open ended the thinking is.  Would self directed goal setting fall into divergent thinking?

 

I've done a lot to try to manage my issues wholistically.  I work with an ADD coach, tried different medication/supplement approaches (mind you this is hard when you can't always think strategically) and tried CBT/ACBT/MCBT.  My issues don't fit neatly into one box. 

 

Stimulants help with getting things done, not with being able to get to the essence of an abstract thought.  But honestly, only concerta didn't make me excessively too nervous and hyperfocused.  I was on wellbutrin, which helped to an extent, but that made me nervous.  I was briefly on memantime.  I could think at least in terms of strategy, but it made me anxious after awhile.

 

 

 


Edited by whiteelephant, 13 January 2019 - 05:43 PM.


#2 Mind_Paralysis

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 06:55 PM

Hmm... are you sure you're thinking about ABSTRACT thinking here? As far as I know, what one usually talks about when it comes to abstraction in psychology/behaviour and neurodevelopmental disorders is more along the lines of CONCEPTUAL abstraction:

 

"Conceptual abstractions may be formed by filtering the information content of a concept or an observable phenomenon, selecting only the aspects which are relevant for a particular subjectively valued purpose. For example, abstracting a leather soccer ball to the more general idea of a ball selects only the information on general ball attributes and behavior, excluding, but not eliminating, the other phenomenal and cognitive characteristics of that particular ball.[1] In a type–token distinction, a type (e.g., a 'ball') is more abstract than its tokens (e.g., 'that leather soccer ball')."

 

 

https://en.wikipedia...iki/Abstraction

 

Conceptual abstraction is generally impaired in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 

 

The fact that your IQ scores shows a great disparity in certain fields, as well as the fact that you mention how MEMANTINE helped, does make me consider something... Perhaps you also have threshold AUTISM?

I.e Atypical Autism, the type that scores not quite as high in autistic score-points as the regular high-functioning autistic - i.e Aspergers. (atypical is not aspergers)

 

As you're probably aware, there's evidence of the NMDA-network being impaired in Autism (hrrm, in ADHD as well, though...), so that could be why you had some improvements from Memantine. NITROmemantine, memantine's far, far mightier cousin, actually showed significant effects on autistic rat-behaviour, in a few tests. : o

Sadly, it was deemed too risky, what with the nitrate-groups in it - those can cause cancer.

 

 

Anyways, perhaps you can more carefully single down on what kind of issues you have, if you compare whatever you find hard, with various disorders which reduce cognition? Like this here - it describes different TYPES of Autistic problems with abstraction:

 

Research Shows Three Distinct Thought Styles In People With Autism

https://www.forbes.c...le-with-autism/

 

  • Visual thinkers, who are often poor at algebra.
  • Verbal thinkers who are good at talking and writing but they lack visual skills.
  • Pattern thinkers such as Daniel Tammet, who excel in math and music but may have problems with reading or writing composition.

 

I suppose the low-functional autistic folks have impairments in all three domains? That would certainly explain the immense difficulties the most ailing ones are afflicted with.

 

My main point is this: could it not be fortuitous for you to try to break down the impairments/strengths you specifically have, in a similar manor? Perhaps you might then be able to pinpoint more accurately how to use technological tools to help you with these problems, or perhaps find some sort of brain-training regimen that could help you to get better at such tasks.


Edited by Mind_Paralysis, 13 January 2019 - 06:57 PM.

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#3 whiteelephant

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 12:38 AM

Thanks for your reply.  I am trying to identify which researched issues my own symptoms best align with.  It has not been easy.  Conceptual abstraction is a better term for it, but I don't know how much research is done on this process.  Even with the nuances of executive function, most research just examines the larger attention deficits.

 

Brain training only, if at all, improves working memory.  There've been n of one instances, like Barbara Arrowsmith, where they've remedied neuropsych differences.

 

I certainly would welcome input on what kind of issue this aligns with the most.

 

Most disorders don't boil down to one simple pathway, but unfortunately that's how most of the drugs have been researched.  Given that I fall in no one particular category, it has been hard to figure what biological/intervention pathway to target.



#4 Mind_Paralysis

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 03:43 PM

Thanks for your reply.  I am trying to identify which researched issues my own symptoms best align with.  It has not been easy.  Conceptual abstraction is a better term for it, but I don't know how much research is done on this process.  Even with the nuances of executive function, most research just examines the larger attention deficits.

 

Brain training only, if at all, improves working memory.  There've been n of one instances, like Barbara Arrowsmith, where they've remedied neuropsych differences.

 

I certainly would welcome input on what kind of issue this aligns with the most.

 

Most disorders don't boil down to one simple pathway, but unfortunately that's how most of the drugs have been researched.  Given that I fall in no one particular category, it has been hard to figure what biological/intervention pathway to target.

 

No prob's mate - I'm in the same boat meself.

 

Anyways, you've actually got somewhere to start - you say you reacted cognitively favourably to MEMANTINE? But it caused anxiety/emotional instability? Could you then not perhaps return to Memantine, but try and find some way to make it more tolerable?

 

I.e, perhaps an SSRI, like Sertraline, could be added to your regimen, and you would then be able to resist the anxiogenic side-effects of Memantine.
 

I see you're already on DesVenlafaxine (pristiq), but it's quite doable to switch to another. (except if Pristiq helps you a lot, you may not need to change it at all)

 

How does this regimen sound?

 

18 mg Concerta

2 mg Guanfacine (intuniv)

75 mg DesVenlafaxine (pristiq)

4 mg Memantine



#5 AceNZ

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 03:43 AM

Brain conditions like yours are very difficult to diagnose in detail, and even harder to treat effectively.

 

IME, the most effective approach at the moment is diet-based, rather than supplement-based. Have you tried an anti-autism diet? It's often the case that the brain is inflamed in Autism and ASD. Reducing inflammation while increasing ketones has been very effective for some. The idea is to heal the gut and normalize gut bacteria, and that by doing that, you also help the brain heal and function better.

 

There are a few anti-autism diets around. My favorite (and the most effective, according to anecdotal reports) is the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet (http://www.gapsdiet....ps-outline.html) -- basically, bone broth, meat and boiled vegetables. It's simple food, healthy, and yet a very satisfying way to eat.



#6 metabrain

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 03:35 PM

I have a similar problem, Sertraline helps me with this.


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#7 whiteelephant

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 12:03 AM

Thanks everyone.

The gaps diet is hard. Especially since I have a documented casein intolerance. I could try it.

Of note, I have an scl6a4 snp so hypothetically don't tolerate ssris as well. Prozac helped with calmness to an extent, but didn't help with many of the learning issues and made me tired.

I've been around the supplement lifestyle and medication merrygoround.

I had to stop Wellbutrin which only made me nervous without tegretol since I had exercise induced tachycardia.

Lab tests that have come back with some maybe relevant values:

Low ferritin-15
Low vitamin c
Low pregnenelone( there's research using this at higher doses to treat some mood and cognition issues but this seems scary to mess with. Unclear research pointing to which hormones this precursor supplementation increases. Also I have Pcos
Elevated dppiv

Mind paralysis suggestion is helpful as are all of these. I'm hoping there may be other things to look into as well.

#8 AceNZ

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 12:53 AM

The gaps diet is hard. Especially since I have a documented casein intolerance. I could try it.

 

GAPS does take some work, no doubt about it. It's a very satisfying way to eat, though -- and completely casein-free.

 

The basic staple meal is something like this:

 

https://www.jackstoc...m/gaps-recipes/

 

You can skip the other details of the diet for a long time. We don't use that particular recipe anymore, but it's a reasonable starting point.

 

The preparation process is a bit time-consuming. Whether it's worth it or not probably depends on how sick you are.


Edited by AceNZ, 23 January 2019 - 01:02 AM.


#9 Mind_Paralysis

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 02:02 PM

GAPS does take some work, no doubt about it. It's a very satisfying way to eat, though -- and completely casein-free.

 

The basic staple meal is something like this:

 

https://www.jackstoc...m/gaps-recipes/

 

You can skip the other details of the diet for a long time. We don't use that particular recipe anymore, but it's a reasonable starting point.

 

The preparation process is a bit time-consuming. Whether it's worth it or not probably depends on how sick you are.

 

 

I've finally taken a closer look at this whole GAPS-thing you keep promoting... and honestly, there doesn't appear to be much evidence to support it's use.

I'd prefer it if you actually posted some scientific reviews on cochrane double-blinded studies that actually support the use of GAPS - otherwise, promoting it, without evidence, might actually be harmful.

 

@whiteelephant:

 

I wouldn't try this diet out until there's some more evidence behind it - seems like a lot of work, perhaps even suffering, which may not end up yielding anything at all.


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#10 theobromananda

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 05:35 PM

 

Apart from just task management, the big frustration is when trying to apply/anticipate how my interests translate into near and far term preferences and options.  Career-wise, I can be interested in the outcome of work, but then get very frustrated/bored by the process.  Sometimes, it feels like I either haven't thought through and kept in mind the essential details of some options, and instead got interested in some sporadic details.

 

I have had this problem when I was younger, and for me it was a psychosomatic one: I had a puer aeternus complex as described by Jung. I was avoiding material reality and instead tried to keep myself distracted by fleeing into the abstract mental worlds. What got me out of it was asking me the question of what prison I wanted to stay in for the rest of my life - my neurotic complex or material reality. Obviously, I choose reality. If this resonates with you, look up the puer aeternus, or say something and I will post a very good summary.

 

Generally, for advancing the work process, a kanban-like board is very good. You determine as precisely as possible your goal (and where, when, who, timeline etc). Then, you determine the steps necessary to get there, and the required order. Then, you work on the next smallest goal until it is done, working through all the necessary steps. Sorry if this sounds condescending, it is well intended and even if it sounds trivial it is important (and I am not very good at describing a kanban board).

 

If this problem is caused by an inability to keep stuff in mind, I would recommend brahmi.

 

 

I can get very motivated by instances and moments, but can't always recall/regenerate that excitement/enthusiasm into a larger focus.  So I was in research, and thought about going into psych research, but found that I found the data cleaning and conceptual inconsistency really tedious.  Same about health services research.  So while I've worked hard and achieved in the classroom, this hasn't translated to proportionate outcomes in achieving the same financial/life returns since I get stuck not advancing in any career.

 

To be honest, sounds like the puer aeternus complex, not being able to take material reality serious and escaping as soon as it becomes difficult. Work has to go on even if enthusiasm wanes - endlessly searching for enthusiasm is chasing the dragon.


Edited by theobromananda, 23 January 2019 - 06:07 PM.

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#11 AceNZ

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 08:33 PM

I've finally taken a closer look at this whole GAPS-thing you keep promoting... and honestly, there doesn't appear to be much evidence to support it's use.

I'd prefer it if you actually posted some scientific reviews on cochrane double-blinded studies that actually support the use of GAPS - otherwise, promoting it, without evidence, might actually be harmful.

 

@whiteelephant:

 

I wouldn't try this diet out until there's some more evidence behind it - seems like a lot of work, perhaps even suffering, which may not end up yielding anything at all.

 

In my experience, finding unbiased, well-executed studies on diets is close to impossible.

 

The evidence I have is that it worked amazingly well for me and my wife. So, only N=2.

 

I've tried quiet a few different ways of eating over the years, ranging from Vegan to Macrobiotics to Gerson to Carnivore to Paleo. GAPS works best for me. FWIW, in many ways, GAPS isn't actually that far from Paleo. If GAPS is a step too far, then Paleo would be a reasonable alternative.

 

What is it about bone broth, meat and veggies that you think might be harmful? "Perhaps even suffering."?? LOL. It provides an extremely nutrient-rich and very satisfying way of eating. There are also quite a few success stories out there. For example:

 

http://www.gapsdiet....stimonials.html

https://www.thehealt...uccess-stories/

https://www.yogabyca...aps-diet-update

https://www.eatnaked...melanies-story/


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#12 jack black

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 03:32 PM

interesting thread here. this is the first time I've heard about atypical autism, i guess I knew it as Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified: https://en.wikipedia...rwise_specified

 

I personally have a lot of those symptoms, especially "Preoccupation with fantasy, such as imaginary friends in childhood"

But, abstract thinking was never my problem, unless I don't get it.

 

in terms of diet, i noticed that vegetable based diet, but gluten free and sugars free seems to work the best. Legumes work especially great fixing my mood issues.



#13 whiteelephant

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 08:15 PM

https://case.edu/med...h-of-dr-lin-mei

 

Thoughts on the role of ERBB4 and gaba in top down attention?  Anything along these lines that would enhance top down attention?



#14 jack black

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 08:43 PM


 

Conceptual abstraction is generally impaired in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 

 

 

would you mind expanding on this? I did some searches but didn't get results pertaining to every-day's life. would that impairment be picked up by Abstract Reasoning Tests like this? https://www.huffingt...4b0d786aa52b724

 

I'm curious, because I suck at those tests.


Edited by jack black, 25 January 2019 - 08:58 PM.


#15 gamesguru

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Posted 26 January 2019 - 06:06 AM

You are dissatisfied with life and unable to find your happiness within.  Learn to relax and your ability to focus will improve.

 

Bacopa, ginseng and tea can improve clarity, recall and word choice.  But to truly enhance your thinking and faculties, you need to tap into the well of poison. But to do it painlessly and sustainably you must listen to your body, it is smarter than your mind. If you are quiet enough you will hear the flow of the universe and the twisting of time.  Only in such a state can you accomplish your best work.


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#16 Mind_Paralysis

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Posted 26 January 2019 - 12:08 PM

interesting thread here. this is the first time I've heard about atypical autism, i guess I knew it as Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified: https://en.wikipedia...rwise_specified

 

I personally have a lot of those symptoms, especially "Preoccupation with fantasy, such as imaginary friends in childhood"

But, abstract thinking was never my problem, unless I don't get it.

 

in terms of diet, i noticed that vegetable based diet, but gluten free and sugars free seems to work the best. Legumes work especially great fixing my mood issues.

 

Correct.

Atypical Autism (ICD-term), PDD-NOS (DSM-term) and Autism-like state / Autism-like Syndrome (local scandinavian variation of the term) all describe people whom full fill certain dimensions of Autism to various degrees, but also notably have one or more dimensions NOT impaired by autism.

 

In essence, what used to be sub-threshold cases, prior to the adoption of Autism as a spectrum of behaviour, rather than merely one or two specific diagnoses. These people can now obtain a diagnosis and receive the same kind of help and care as those with slightly different / higher amounts of impairment (classical aspergers) - in essence it just proves how complex Autism is, and why it's so difficult to treat - it can vary to such an immense degree.

 

 

If you want to dig down even deeper into the potential outliers on the Autism-Spectrum, then check out the controversial diagnosis tentatively called McDD:

 

https://en.wikipedia...mental_disorder

 

It describes people whom display less classical Autistic symptoms, such as social difficulties, but more so a form of THOUGHT-disorder, similar to Schizophrenia and other psychotic symptoms. The strange thing though, is that this disorder is visible from birth, and mostly shows up like Autism at first. In essence, they take the whole "preoccupation with fantasy and imaginary friends" to a whole, whole new level... How on Earth this is possible, and what it means for the evolution of the human brain is perplexing - because there are several KEY differences between Autism and Schizoidism, on a biochemical, disease-mechanistic level which actually makes the two diseases work in OPPOSITION to each other... Yet, here they are, autistic people with psychotic symptoms - yet their brains don't look like Schizoids... they look like Autistics.

 

It's like, if they have swung so far off to one end, they eventually came out the other.

 

 

would you mind expanding on this? I did some searches but didn't get results pertaining to every-day's life. would that impairment be picked up by Abstract Reasoning Tests like this? https://www.huffingt...4b0d786aa52b724

 

I'm curious, because I suck at those tests.

 

Hmm... you actually made me consider the fact that I only have a very simple, passing, understanding of abstract reasoning myself!

 

So, I took a quick test online to fresh myself up on it:

 

https://www.123test....reasoning-test/

 

I then realized that I have a actually taken multiple such tests and done reasonably well, or at least average - on this test, I got 8/10 answers correct. Could you by chance take the quickie test too, and we might compare?

 

 

As far as I have understood it... abstract reasoning in the way it's meant to be impaired in Autism, is basically a more complex form of the difficulty of comprehending/anticipating which new geometric shape will logically follow from the next, but instead of geometry, we are talking about social behaviours, and the ability to utilize ones ability to determine what a person intends or does not intend, from pre-programmed social cues.

 

I.e, I read some autistic people do a  test with strings and various other objects, and the goal then is to assign various social roles, family positions, to the various inanimate objects - this is then very difficult, and Autistic people notably assign far less complex behaviours or roles for the strings/actors/role-players.

 

 

I.e, an autistic person would only assign these simple parameters to the objects intended to simulate a family:

 

"The string is Mr. String - he likes hanging. The purse is Mr's Purse, she likes to lie down."

 

 

Whereas I... am somewhat more  colourful in the way I describe their simulated "personalities":

 

"This is Mr. Stringus Strongus! He's very strong for a string, and is really into lifting heavy weights! He's strong, but kind. And this is Mrs Pursey Strongus! She likes to lie down on beautiful beaches to soak up the warmth of the sun on her nice pig-skin. They've been married for 23 years, ever since Stringus saved Pursey from being swept away by a wave on the beach, by turning into a lasso and grabbing her."

 

This then, is the inability to... transfer or imagine yourself inside/into/becoming something else - to take on the properties of what you see, in your minds eye - to replace the "You" with the "I".

 

As I understand it, this also extends to the anticipation of other abstract concepts and outcomes, such as DEATH - a severely autistic person cannot anticipate what death truly means, and how it marks the end of ones existence, and how ones own actions can cause such an irreparrable state.


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#17 jack black

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 02:15 AM


So, I took a quick test online to fresh myself up on it:

 

https://www.123test....reasoning-test/

 

I then realized that I have a actually taken multiple such tests and done reasonably well, or at least average - on this test, I got 8/10 answers correct. Could you by chance take the quickie test too, and we might compare?

 

 

.

 

i took that one and it was quite easy, i did 9/10 correct, but it took me some time (with interruptions). the one i had difficulties (2/8) was more difficult and timed from: https://www.psychome...itude-Tests.asp

 

you're right about different types of abstract thinking impaired in autism. I found it better explained here: https://www.quora.co...istic-traits  

 

that description resonates with me as I tend to have no problems with abstract thinking, yet the social nuances were very hard for me to figure out while i was young, it's getting much better now when older.

 

another thing that we don't hear a lot is association between ASD and OCD. they have similar genetic roots and I certainly have some OCD traits, although quite benign.


Edited by jack black, 28 January 2019 - 02:32 AM.


#18 BioHacker=Life

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Posted 03 February 2019 - 06:55 AM

Mind maps can be very helpful.



#19 Mind_Paralysis

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 04:36 PM

Mind maps can be very helpful.

 

Could you elaborate a bit on this? How would they help, exactly?
 



#20 BioHacker=Life

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 05:54 PM

Could you elaborate a bit on this? How would they help, exactly?
 

 

You write down your thought process and what you want it to be in the form of maps. There's software out there for it.



#21 Seganfredo

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 11:02 PM

i took that one and it was quite easy, i did 9/10 correct, but it took me some time (with interruptions). the one i had difficulties (2/8) was more difficult and timed from: https://www.psychome...itude-Tests.asp

 

you're right about different types of abstract thinking impaired in autism. I found it better explained here: https://www.quora.co...istic-traits  

 

that description resonates with me as I tend to have no problems with abstract thinking, yet the social nuances were very hard for me to figure out while i was young, it's getting much better now when older.

 

another thing that we don't hear a lot is association between ASD and OCD. they have similar genetic roots and I certainly have some OCD traits, although quite benign.

 

You got shafted in the #9, right. 9/10 too. I know I was too lazy to get it correctly. It's like 42 Celsius in here.


Edited by Seganfredo, 10 February 2019 - 11:04 PM.


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#22 whiteelephant

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Posted 09 March 2019 - 06:18 PM

So, unideal updates.  

 

First, some further background on my profile.  I did some pharmacogenetic testing awhile ago and tested as a CYP2D6 poor metabolizer and SCL6a4 short allele.  And CACNA1C mutation.

 

I know the latter suggests bipolar, but I struggle with some basic functioning things without being in manic modes.  I don't deny that I have mood issues in addition to attention issues, but these would seem unlikely to generate such a huge VIQ/PIQ discrepancy?  Do medications/nootropics help with only minor discrepancies?

 

I started Strattera 6 weeks ago. Am on 50 mg along with intuniv 2 mg and Pristiq 75 mg.  Unfortunately, my baseline HR jumps up to over 100.  The baseline tachy is new, but I've had some med cardiac issues previously.  I had to go off Wellbutrin d/t exercise induced tachycardia.  The exercise induced tachycardia is my baseline without meds.  The Strattera helps but not enough.  With intuniv, I would get moody and hypotensive if I went past 2 mg, and it's hard to notice anything with that low a dose.

 

I am left with persistent problems breaking down tasks and planning, and so while I work hard and show potential, it's exhausting and a battle of diminishing returns.

 

Thoughts on next steps?  With my MD, I'm going to taper off Pristiq and see if I can swap in a different antidepressant.  







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