Fluid reasoning (or ‘fluid intelligence’) is the ability to apply knowledge to new situations; as opposed to ‘rote memory’, which is simply repeating the same memorised steps over and over. A deficit in fluid intelligence is one symptom of an autism spectrum disorder like Aspergers or NLD. Researchers have found that a simple computer game called ‘n-back‘ can help improve fluid intelligence, as this Wired article explains (but so far, they’ve only tested it on non-autistic subjects). A free version of the game can be downloaded here (the usual disclaimer: though I’ve downloaded and used it myself, I make no claims as to the fitness of this software for any purpose, or that it won’t damage your computer, cause it to melt, disappear into thin air or eat your lunch when you’re not looking). Versions of the game are also available for mobile devices, search ‘n-back’ for more details.
Living with a disability can lead to a cycle of negative thinking, in which we constantly repeat discouraging mantras like “I’m useless”, or “It’s hopeless”, etc. This cycle of negativity is a mental habit, something the brain does automatically if you let it (like biting your nails). The cycle is self-reinforcing, it may get worse if you don’t actively counter it. Pushing the mental STOP! button when you have a negative thought is the least you can do to try and slow the cycle. In my own case, I add a little extra reinforcement by pinching myself hard whenever I have a negative thought. The pain goes straight to my subconscious, hopefully acting as a disincentive to even think a negative thought. Good old-fashioned Pavlovian conditioning.
http://www.ted.com Autism activist Temple Grandin talks about how her mind works — sharing her ability to “think in pictures,” which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.