Report on Psychology Group Meeting - Meeting, Friday, 18 December 2015

My apologies to all members of the group for apparently being incommunicado since Christmas but from just after the holiday my time and thoughts have been utterly preoccupied with a serious family medical emergency. I think it’s really only just now that I’ve managed to bring my mind back to daily reality and thankfully not be so consumed by fear for the future of a loved one.

For our last meeting we met at our usual venue with the issue of Asperger’s syndrome being the main topic on our agenda followed if time allowed a discussion on Artificial intelligence.

Initially we reviewed what Prof. Uta Frith had said in our previous meeting’s video on autism in general and noticed that she had mentioned Asperger’s syndrome as a condition on the autistic spectrum but had not gone into any great detail. We then watched a video made by Dr. Sheldon Horowitz, a distinguished American psychiatrist, who explained clearly and in some detail the similarities and differences between Asperger’s and autism and why the signs and symptoms of the syndrome justified a distinct diagnosis.

After discussing the content of Dr Horowitz’s video we watched a video clip called “My Autism and Me”, made by a teenage girl who claims to not so much suffer from as to live with her Asperger’s condition. She is obviously a very clever and articulate young woman who expresses the experience of her condition in a quite positive way. She seems to see herself as being able to experience life from an idiosyncratic perspective which she believes has something positive to offer her and with a little understanding from others allows her to live a fulfilled life. She then contrasts her own experience with that of her younger brother who suffers from quite severe autism, has little in the way of speech and suffers profound learning difficulties. Though the clip was relatively short I think we all found the experiences of these two children very interesting.

As so often seems to be the case that left us with insufficient time to discuss another issue that of artificial intelligence in any depth. This had been raised previously by Barrie as being an interest of his so we agreed to make this a topic of a later meeting. Sadly Barrie cannot be with us on the 15th January as he will be attending the funeral of a friend so as a topic that will again be postponed. Judith had also wished to discuss a topic of interest to us all that of creative thinking and the creative brain but fortunately for her will be away in warmer climate of France during January and February so we have postponed that topic until March.

Our usual venue has been booked for the 15th January and I hope you’ll forgive me if this seems a little vague but perhaps we could use this meeting to discuss any relevant media materials members may have come across and perhaps for the benefit of members who have joined more recently recap some of the topics we have discussed since first forming last year. Now that I’m thinking a little clearer I will also between now and then have a look at any available resources to see if I can find anything of interest. I would point out that for anyone who has missed the video presentations of our earlier meetings it is quite easy for me to put them onto a blank DVD disc as mp4 files which you could then watch at your leisure at home.

I look forward to seeing you all again on Friday afternoon.
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