My adult daughter, who is diagnosed with Asperger’s, came home one day and told me how surprised she was to find that most people when they enter a room? Look at the people.
“I always look at the layout of the room,” she explained, “how the seats are laid out, where the doors are, where the teacher is working from, what equipment is in the room, where the windows are. I never thought to look at the people.”
This is an example of what Dr. Jim Tanaka of UVic says about difference in perception between those with and those without ASD. It also illustrates Simon Baron-Cohen’s point that kids on the spectrum find systems more fascinating than people.
Other problems of perception happen because of focus. At SFU, I was an English Lit major. It took me ten years to get my degree as a mature student. I can’t believe in all that time, I never realized that SFU has an Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab. I was totally focused on English classes, which were in different wings than the sciences.
I now know that lab is headed by Dr. Grace Iarocci, and its current focus is the way in which visual perception is affected both negatively and positively by processes of attention.
This year, they’re co-hosting three community events about ASD kids, their families and the quality of life. The idea is to open a discussion about quality of life issues for ASD individuals, care givers, professionals and families. It’s free, open to the public. Watch their website for scheduling: http://autismlab.psyc.sfu.ca/events
Dr. Iarocci apparently has influence with the government and bodies determining ASD funding, so please do attend and voice your opinion loud and clear.