ASD in go

After the thread on women, I want to start one on another controversial topic: autistic spectrum disorders, in particular Asperger’s syndrome, in go. For those of you who have never heard of it, I will paste the symptoms according to the DSM IV:

A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

  • marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction.
  • failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.
  • a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people).
  • lack of social or emotional reciprocity.

B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

  • encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.
  • apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals.
  • stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements).
  • persistent preoccupation with parts of objects.

C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

D. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years).

E. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

F. Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia.

My theory is that there are more people on the autism spectrum among go players than in the normal population (and maybe it increases as the go strength increases?).
Certainly asking here will not resolve this doubt, but I would like to see what kind of answers there will be.
Votes are anonymous but feel free to share your answers (or whatever you think about this subject) if you want :slight_smile:

Do you think you might be on the autistic spectrum?

  • No, I’m the most sociable person ever
  • I recognise myself in some things but not in everything
  • I think I am autistic
  • I have an official diagnosis

0 voters

How prevalent do you think it is in the go community?

  • Less than in the normal population
  • As in the normal population (~1%)
  • More than in the normal population, but less than 20%
  • More than 20%
  • More than 50%

0 voters


Sofia keeping things spicy :hot_pepper:

Edit: spelling


Next up, black people in go?


Something was said here


No diagnosis, and I’m pretty sure I’m not on the spectrum, but by goodness do I relate to a lot of the criteria.


I don’t have a good knowledge on what is this.

The questions on early childhood are hard to answer, need my parents at least who are not nearby.

What means appropriate to developmental level?

  • stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
  • persistent preoccupation with parts of objects.

these criteria makes me think that there is no more no less autism in the go players population as in the general population.


I think it means appropriate to what would be expected for their age. A 5 year old should be more adept at making and having friends than a 3 year old.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the incidence of autism in the Go community was in line with the population, but autism is such a wide label, just about anything might have the potential to affect how often it’s observed in certain areas. I learned it as synonymous with non-NT when I was younger, but I believe there’s some more stringent definition nowadays.

The way this is built will make most of people answer the first.
Even if you don’t think to be especially autist, you will find something in the criteria. And even if you find nothing then you may think you are still not the most sociable. Backside question, does autism defines exhaustively sociabilty? For example which answer is relevant for someone with a tendancy to violence (and not meeting any of the criteria)?


Especially for Asperger’s, I think there is a higher incidence in the go community than in the normal population. I also expect that is the case in STEM fields.
Some people I know, who are in STEM or go (or both), have a diagnosis for Asperger’s.
I tend to get along fairly well with those people, because we share many common interests (usually the more “nerdy” ones). I don’t know if I have this condition myself. There was never a reason to get a diagnosis and I don’t really care if I have it (a mild version) or not.


I can’t answer that poll. I am not the most sociable person ever (far from it), don’t recognize myself in the described symptoms, but I have some doubts about this one:

What does the expression “stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest” mean?


I’m not positive, but I believe stereotyped in this context does not mean stereotyped in the normal usage of the word.

Quick googling, and I believe stereotypy in this context refers to repetitive behaviors.


The DSM IV is really old. Even DSM-5 is getting old. Don’t know if that matters with regard to Asperger’s specifically, but knowledge about Pervasive Developmental Disorder (the technical term for autism) overall has undergone a tremendous transformation in the last 20 years. Some manifestations, such as what are known as “sensory” kids, were virtually unknown 20 years ago. The spectrum has widened and become very mixed. Trying to self-diagnose from the DSM is folly. It is like the old joke: one starts reading a medical text and begins to imagine they have all kinds of illnesses. People with no experience of a person who has PDD generally have great difficulty grasping the real-world nature of the condition. It certainly can’t be understood from words on a page.

This thread has terrific potential to convey misinformation.


That was not my intention. I chose to quote the DSM IV and not the DSM 5 because the DSM 5 puts together (in the autistic spectrum, precisely) very different manifestations.
In the ICD 11 (2019), another important manual, Asperger’s syndrome is not present, but it’s superimposable with " Autism spectrum disorder without disorder of intellectual development and without impairment of functional language" that is there.

I didn’t want any self-diagnosis to arise from this thread, of course. If you think you might be autistic and having a diagnosis is important to you, get tested. It is also possible for adults.
But it seems that so far no one has voted “I think I am autistic” :slight_smile:

There are at least 4 people with an official diagnosis, I’m glad to know that apparently they are well enough off here to have chosen to stay.


This, to me, is a huge red flag regarding pseudoscience. Like if someone gets a certain categorization according to an MBTI inventory, but they fit another categorization better, they will be assigned the categorization they fit. This is fine if it’s meant as a shortcut to describing yourself, but if it claims to be an objective test, that’s dishonest. Instead of accepting that psychology is a field where being right 55% of the time is an extremely good showing for a test, MBTI adherents tend to just change the results until it’s right 100% of the time. If the definition of Aspergers is not necessarily the final say on whether or not it’s diagnosed, but rather someone decides, after comparing with the DSM, whether or not the person in question actually has Aspergers, that is a big red flag to me.

I am not saying this is necessarily the case, it could be my razor giving a false positive, but it could be.

For the record, I was diagnosed with Aspergers when I was younger, but it was later changed to Autism (I don’t recall the exact type of Autism; both diagnoses were when I was fairly young).


Especially considering that mental health is an evolving branch of study. It is not a matter of “hey the lab tests are in and you have this and this” … in mental health there are no lab tests and the field is expanding or contracting definitions constantly, so us - normal people untrained in the field - making such judgements is imho just plain wrong.

As far as I am concerned, I do not have any of those indications. I am just good old plain annoying, which, in my best of knowledge, is not yet into the psychologists spectrums :stuck_out_tongue:


I don’t think these two things (a fast-developing field and a scientific and objective approach) are mutually exclusive. An example hypothesis could be, “Given this question inventory which purportedly identifies some condition, let’s call it foo, a positive will indicate a higher likliehood than the population to exhibit such-and-such to p <= 0.05. This foo, is what we call Aspergers. Therefore, this inventory tests for Aspergers.”.


It is not for people that are trained in the field and stay informed with all the new research of an ever expanding science. But for us? What do we know about it and how can we judge? I admit that I am totally ignorant on the issue which is why I skipped the poll.

We have to make arguments from authority, and make judgements as to which authorities to trust, if and when they conflict, based on our experience of what pseudoscience and/or quakery tends to look like. I am absolutely not saying psychology is a pseudoscience, but I do think some psychologists are pseudoscientists, or at the very least too close to it for my taste. Generally speaking, I’d rather trust a test that claims to be 55% accurate, and has some statistics in it which purport to support this claim, but could be complete garbage for all I know, but hopefully the people in peer review were more knowledgeable than me in that area, rather than a test which claims to be 100% accurate, but is actually only 60% accurate. I just don’t trust the second one.

This can mean that two people can disagree about something where one of them logically must be wrong, because none of us are perfect at choosing which authorities to trust. And that’s also not to dismiss the option not to trust any of the authorities, though that is risky as while authorities can be wrong, so can everyone else, including the person deciding not to trust them on a given matter. Still, there are times where it is appropriate.

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“For the sake of our well-being and health as a society and culture as a whole, it’s essential that we start using more positive language to talk about the brain in its many variations.”
The Power of Neurodiversity, Thomas Armstrong, PhD (2010)

I’ve enjoyed the discussions & challenges in the “Women in go” thread, so I’m happy to see that we’re actively engaging with these topics that define our time. Thank you for hosting @_Sofiam

Autism is better represented as a big beautiful color wheel than a linear spectrum. (Full comic on the subject, worth a read.)

Everyone has traits that lie on different degrees & latitudes of the color wheel.
Everyone. That’s why most of us “recognise some things” but don’t “feel autistic.”

Autism is a precise-yet-sloppy term for specific traits of neurodiversity at large. Neurodiversity (or neuro-atypicality) includes: schizophrenia, ADD/ADHD, bi-polar, anxiety, depression, etc etc etc. Different variations of the human mind at work.

Each of these variations have their own “color wheels” of traits/symptoms. Some color wheels overlap. We all have various traits of neurodivergence, and part of the idea is that “neurotypicality” (aka the “normal” brain) is a fallacy. There is no “normal.”

I personally answered “I think I’m autistic.” I did so because I find the term to be empowering in my own internal dialogue. I don’t desire diagnosis because I know what I experience, and don’t need a second opinion. I also don’t publicly identify as autistic. It’s useful to me, just like understanding my ADHD tendencies.

Back to go.

“Whether you are regarded as disable or gifted depends largely on when and where you were born.” (Armstrong)

I am immensely curious about how autism / neurodivergence is discussed in the larger Asian go community. I would be deeply surprised to find out that most Pro’s are considered “neurotypical.”

As a small example: @gennan mentioned monomania in the “Women in go” thread. This is a kind of neurodivergence characterized by intense focus/obsession with a single subject. I mean, that’s the definition of a professional player in my book :joy:

Neurodivergence is something that we need to understand, and cultivate with intention. Minds that work differently than our own develop different ideas & concepts. The goban is a singularly unique chance to communicate with another person beyond the boundaries of spoken/written language.

In an era of rapid AI growth, I hope to see a renaissance of go as a human art form.
A renaissance requires new ideas & concepts.