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Questions about Autism

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I have done alot of research trying to understand this condition since I was diagnosed as an adult with ASD and 6 other learning disabilities over a year ago.

i have two questions that pertain to memory, problem solving and communication. 

Some basic information about me that may illuminate the reason for my questions but feel free to skip past the ** block of text to the questions.

**I am unable to communicate complex information to other people who are not extremely well versed in the topic area if i do not possess an extremely thorough understanding of the topic. Even if i do posses a very deep understanding of a topic it may take me several try's to explain the information in a way that even a smart individual versed in the subject area can easily comprehend. 

I don't consider myself to be a genius though i do consider myself to reasonably smart. Although at a base level for understanding something that is communicated to me i find i am well below average in my ability to understand something whether it is verbally or written especially if it is the first time i have encountered such a concept. 

Generally i can only easily communicate advanced thoughts on concepts or methods to someone who has a PhD in the related field. This is almost always met intentionally with surprise followed by the statement "wow i would of never thought to do it that way." When studying mathematics, physics chemistry or biology especially at a higher level. (3rd, 4th, 5th year university level) i would have to make a weekly trip to each of my professors office's as there always be at least one answer on each assignment that the grad student couldn't comprehend what i was doing and simply given me a zero and wrote please see professor on the question or simply what?

Oddly i have two people in my life that not only could instantly understand any explanation i had given them but also could easily explain things to me in way i could instantly comprehend. Neither of these two were autistic despite sharing very similar outlooks of social parameters with me. These two individuals are the only two people i have met in my life that i would consider to be genius's.  Both were able to maintain a  90%+ in all classes while taking 5 or 6 courses per semester and still spend considerable time pursuing other interests. Though i am able to maintain a 9.0 gpa or (90%+) in all classes while taking 5 or 6 per semester as well; it is however alot more time consuming for me to write out my solutions in a clear manner that a marker can understand as such i am unable to pursue very many other interests when in school.

i often will spend 30 minutes solving 6 or 8 complicated math problems for an assignment then have to spend 3hrs trying to write them down in a way someone will understand. This however does not seem to be a problem for these two individuals or most any other smart people i know generally solving the problem is the hard part not communicating the solution. I am however not sure if that is a problem from my dyslexia, autism, both or a combination of my other learning disabilities.

When i was tested i scored in the 99th percentile for my working memory and 97th for mathematics; the tester also noted that she couldn't accurately judge my short and long term memory as i was able to instantly recall all the information and answer all the questions on the 45 minute test in under a minute 8 hours after being shown it. All test results landed somewhere between 8-20th percentile or 88th and above with about half in each category. 

The tester attributed some of this to the fact that i have only read 4 books in my life that were not textbooks or research articles. Not to mention 3 of them were in grade 3 right after they taught me to read as it was realized that i couldn't read at all by my math teacher in grade 3. The fourth book i read was the first 173 pages of the hobbit that i read in grade 8.

I personally don't hold an value in an IQ test as a measure of intelligence. However my IQ has been properly tested three times in my life; once when i was 10 i scored a 140+ once in my late teens 130+ and once as an adult 140+. The plus rating indicating that the test was not designed to test values above that number.

In grade 12 after the classes had ended but before the final exams i had 44-56% in mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology but i decided that i wanted to go to university. In my country they give Provincial exams that are more difficult than the grades teachers assign. As such a university will take these provincial exam scores as ones final grade in a class instead of the course grade if the grade on the exam is higher. (they are on averages 8-12% lower than the class grades.) I spent one week studying for these exams essentially having to learn 4 grade 12 courses in a week and managed with my lowest grade being 92% to tieing for the highest grade scored in the province at 99% on my chemistry exam.**

Question 1) Is there a name for the type of memory i posses? is it related to Autism? or is it simply that i have a good memory that works intrinsically the same way as a neurotypical persons?

I am able to memorize massive amounts of information in not only a very short time but i can retain the majority of it for weeks and more than half of it indefinitely with no review of any kind. My most recent effort was to learn 2228 kanji a task that takes most people 2-5 years of actively studying to achieve. The fastest most people claim such a feat is possible to achieve is 3-6 months of spending all there waking time studying them. After 5.5 days i completed my process of learning the 2228 kanji. It took me an additional day to get both a correct meaning and reading to a 98%+ accuracy in blocks of 200 at a time.  After the 6.5 days i spent on this venture i was tired of studying kanji and left the topic alone for 5 days at which time i was able to recall 93% of the 2228 kanji on my first pass through them. On my second pass through i was able to recall 2225 of the 2228 correctly i didn't bother with a third attempt that day.

I believe i could of achieved this in less time had i properly slept. I pulled an all nighter on the first sessions for 32hrs straight then slept for 16hrs. sadly if i spend more than 18hrs straight learning something without sleep it seems to  modestly decrease my mental capabilities. With better time management i think 5 days would of been enough to cover all 2228.  From what i have read often people with autism have above average abilities to retain information by using rote memorization but usually don't use a mnemonic device or other memorization techniques. Being that i am dyslexic its very hard for me to use a mnemonic device i have always found much easier to just remember the information than to try and make a mnemonic.

However after researching the subject it seems i naturally learned and leverage all other memorization methods. I seem to be the most reliant on using mnemonic link systems and variation of the peg systems using symbols instead of numbers. if these fail i generally follow them by a mnemonic method called the Method of Ioci. If that fails i generally will employ some form of imaginative memory technique or rote memorization. Generally i would consider this as the most efficient path to remember something. With only a very small portion of things being remembered with imaginative memory or rote memorization. Though imaginative memory is very effective it can take as long as 3 or even 5 minutes to properly memorize an item. Where most items i can recall with an 85% accuracy after only 10-20 seconds using the methods mentioned before and a second pass of 10-20 seconds i am usually over 95%. oddly is the sample size of information is large enough this last 5% i fail to get on the second pass i seem only to be able to get by imaginative memory techniques or rote memorization.

From the research i have done Autistic individuals very rarely employ such methods and relie heavily on rote memorization. One item i stumbled across was the idea of a idiot savant where an Autistic person is able to recall vast amounts of information in great detail about a specific topic or hobby. This however does not seem to apply to me as again these individuals generally don't employ memorization techniques a far as i understand. Additionally these individuals generally have a limited range that such a gift applies to. I myself however can memorize anything i am interested in.

From retaining and being able to replay thousands of games of go played by professionals from memory (its a game like chess but on a much larger board with hundreds of peices.) To memorizing kanji, biology definitions, chemical reactions to complicated mathematical proofs.  Given this it seems my memory can't be attributed to being an idiot savant. However it seems the concept of an eidetic memory doesn't seem to fit either. Though i can recall detailed information about an item; it very rare that what i recall is an image and what i do recall wouldn't fade in but a few minutes.

Though sometimes i cannot recall information i seek i may be able to recall an image of the information i need.  For example during a chemistry exam i couldn't recall the information i required to answer the question; however i was able to recall an image of the page in the textbook that held that information. i simply read the needed information from the image of the page that was in my mind to answer the question.

As i understand it if i was able to do this on demand for everything i wished to recall without effort it would be deemed photographic memory which i certainly cannot do. Generally this only happens accidentally when i have a difficulty understanding what something says or i end up losing interest in the topic and thinking about something else in my head while staring at a page in a book. Though to be honest i have never actually tried to memorize an image of text.

The last memorizing feat i possess is that i can write on the inside of my mind. Without this method after i get 10 or 11 individual pieces of information that i am trying to hold in my head i get stuck and i cant think anymore. i would describe it as i run out of RAM i can't think anymore cause im trying to remember too many things. My original method around this was to simple group pieces of information together. For example it would be very difficult to recall the 13 digits of the number 2537568264425  as about more than 11 or 12 pieces of individual information is just too much for my stupid brain to hold at once. however if i try and recall the numbers 253, 756, 826, 44 and 25 that is only five numbers or five individual pieces of information which is very easy to recall.

Sadly even using such a method its not really enough RAM to tackle an in depth problem. So eventually what i learned to do is when i am working on a complicated physics or math problems is i picture a sphere on the inside of my mind that i am inside. i simply write the information i need to remember down there.  Originally this was just a board that i wrote on but when i filled it with information and tried to make a new board to write more on it would become difficult to retain both boards. Instead i use the inside of the sphere to write information down and simply pan left, right, up or down to find free space to write more down. if i need a number or something i have written down previously i simply pan to that location inside the sphere and read it off the inside of the sphere. Oddly by writing the information down on this surface it would allow me to see it while free up enough RAM for me to still be able to think and perform calculations. This is great because my writing is so difficult to decipher that i can only read what i have written down for about a week after i have written it. 

One could argue that i am not actually able to read my own writing but am able with some visual clues remember what i wrote down.  (i would strongly agree with such an argument.)

Question 2) is there some way i can improve my ability to understand communicated information in the form of a concept or thought pattern that normal people use?

Though my ability to understand audible information is much greater than my ability to understand written information i find it extremely difficult to understand how the average person thinks. This leads to a large amount of confusion on my end as i often have to ask people to define what they mean when they say specific words. Somehow its like most people just intuitively know what someone means when they make a statement. In regular life this is fine for me as i simply remember exactly what people say and compare it to the frequency of similar statements and the resulting meaning of said statements. i then make a guess as to what someone is talking about based on the personality type i have identified them as. using that personality type as a sliding scale to tip the probability of the end results i can often get by in normal everyday life. Since i started using such a method i can even identify when some people are being sarcastic with reasonably accuracy.  In verbal conversation i am able to say define word "x's" meaning to you in said statement. Once i am able to force someone to be specific enough about what they are saying its easy to understand them.

I have learned that when explaining something theirs almost no point in explaining how i got to the conclusion. The method i use is how i originally communicated with children a take a series of small logical jump and i bash the person over the head with them one by one until they come to the solution on there own. Sadly most adults are significantly poorer at understanding such a method than most children. 

i try and create a list of small conceptual leap's in an order i can prove based on the previous statements. of course this has no bearing on how i actually came to my conclusion but it is very time consuming to do. additionally if i don't know the information super well i can't justify or increase the number logical leaps in a way a normal person can understand. It ends up being i say i go from A to C  and they go how the hell did A lead you to think of C.  At which point how do you explain that "it just did" ? 


Any research articles or relevant studies much appreciated; as well as any professional opinions or knowledge from others with ASD or well versed in memorization techniques.


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Here's a paper talking about atypical communication patterns in autistic individuals.


If you can aim for a less formal communication style that will help. Using additional contractions, for instance.

I would say what you are seeing in other individuals is based upon them looking for additional contextual clues. Rather than only what someone says, where, when and how they say it.


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