Publish at March 05 2018 Updated February 17 2022

The Aspergers way of learning

Hypotheses rather than certainties

Multiplication by colors by an autistic: 53 x 131 = 6943

One in 68 children would be identified with autism in the US each year. For a country like France it is 650 000 people who would be on the autism spectrum, including 250 000 children.

People diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome discovered in 1943 by Hans Asperger, are classified as autistic but without cognitive deficits. They would have IQ above 70 and some would even be gifted or " savants ". They have gone from being almost pariahs, banned from school because of social problems, to modern heroes of knowledge. They would know, without needing to learn. Their talents would be wide-ranging :

  • inventing new and original styles like Romain Brifault,
  • drawing ultra-detailed frescoes at a glance, like Stephen Wiltshire able to depict New York City from memory,
  • visualize any decimal of the number pi on demand like Daniel Tammet who wrote 22 514 of them. Daniel Tammet, is able to associate textures, colors, shape, sound or sensation and retrieve them with immense accuracy,
  • memorize at the speed of 10 seconds per page all the information in a book or phone book page and then play it back, such as Kim Peek who inspired the movies,
  • recognize without risk of error the name of a city from a geological detail,
  • quote historical facts from head,
  • count the winning statistics of a combination of a poker game without difficulty,
  • Having graduated high school with honors at the age of 13...

Detail seems to be the hallmark of these special beings. However, not all autistic Aspergers are scholars.

Ludovic Fauchier studies 94 personalities diagnosed with Asperger's or showing the symptoms, such as Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Isaac Newton, Lawrence of Arabia, Bill Gates, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, etc. and shows the variety and precocity of different intelligences.

A price to pay

The price to pay seems heavy: hyper-sensitivity, difficulty integrating, social difficulty, difficulty speaking, emotional instability, and in some cases obsessive-compulsive disorders or panic fears. The movie "Rain Man" had given Dustin Hoffman's face to Raymond, a particularly endearing and fragile hero. Aspergers would have a hard time decoding emotional language. For them, trying to penetrate the usual social codes induces tiring efforts.

At a time when autism and Asperger's syndrome is increasingly highlighted, almost as a reflection of our contemporary societies, understanding how these special beings function seems to leave scientists with hypotheses rather than certainties.

  • What do the scans reveal? Is it a particular neuronal functioning ?
  • What roles do educational situations play  in the development of symptoms?

There is hardly a clear-cut answer at present, especially since the forms of autism and Asperger's are quite variable.

Observation of the functioning of Aspergers is a source of learning. According to Professor Da Fonseca, the way some people understand is similar to " Systemizing ", which  consists in understanding the different rules that govern the functioning of different systems (mechanical, numerical, physical, natural,...) ". This near-instantaneous understanding would perhaps be related to synesthesia, a neurological and poetic phenomenon by which several senses are associated in the perception of the world. Some Aspergers would also be attributed with idetic memory, or photographic memory, so capable are they of storing data.

This ability to sensorially inhabit numbers, abstract objects fascinates us perhaps because our screen-populated lives are always in need of meaning and poetry. And if the way of inhabiting the world of autistic people and Aspergers prefigured the way of learning and living in society of  tomorrow's digital humanity ?

Already the digital offers to some Aspergers a way of learning differently with the digital as in a program of learning coding realized at the Fab-Lab solidaire in Barcelona or a digital workshop in Lorient. Let's bet that these experiences will offer new possibilities of expression to some people at the height of their potentials and aspirations.

Illustration : Multiplication by colors by an autistic: 53 x 131 = 6943


Wikipedia - Asperger's syndrome -

Allo Ciné - Rain Man -

The Tribulations of an Aspergirl - Alexandra Reynaud

Why there are more autistics in France - Eve Roger - Europe 1

Asperger's Syndrome a different intelligence - France TV Info

Aspie you said aspie ? - Fauchier, L. (2015),

An autistic man draws New York from memory - Brice- Buzzly

Romain Brifault from Normandy with Asperger's and a talented designer - Aurélien Delavaud _ Tendance Ouest

Le surdoué des langues qui voit et parle en chiffres (The language genius who sees and speaks in numbers) - Jean-Pierre Langellier - Le Monde

 Aspie, did you say Aspie?Ludovic Fauchie (Synesthesia)

Wikipedia- Kim Peek -

Wikipedia- Eidetic Memory -

Young Aspies Maker : digital education for autism - Orange Foundation

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