Monday, October 11, 2010

Attention and Autism

In chapter 6, we discussed the differences in attention between normal individuals and those who have autism. People with autism percieve the world differently because of the stimuli that they pay attention to in their environment. Although they may pay attention to rather obscure items that other people would not normally notice, they have also been shown to pay extreme attention to detail. Studies have shown that children with autism can perform better than average individuals on the Embedded Figures task. This task requires picking out a small stimulus from a vast surrounding context. An explanation for this is that autisitc children are better able to discriminate the small figure from the other similar figures in the background. Similar to other children, however, autistic children are also affected by the way in which information is presented to them. The amount of irrelevant information presented to them affects the selection of relevant information in the same way for both. The notion of "bits" is often used when describing those with autism. Whereas a non-autistic person will view a room as a whole, an autistic person will pick it apart and focus in on certain bits.
While exploring autism and perception it is crucial to mention the subject of joint attention. Joint attention is the ability to attend to the same object as another person and acknowledge "sharing a moment." This is a skill that affects many areas in a child's development. A child must learn how to do this before they can learn to attend to literacy. As I found out, our perception of the world around us does much to add to or diminish our learning and overall personal growth.
The clip I provided (although obscure and in a different language) shows an example of an autism game used to help the child to learn to display joint attention. The child can gaze from the toy to the other person to demonstrate that they are both engaged in the same activity.


  1. I really enjoyed your blog pertaining to autism. I have had the experience and pleasure working with students with special needs, particularly autism. The one student with autism was about fifteen years of age, however, was on a first grade level. She repeated many things from books she has read or an object that particularly stood out to her. It was difficult to get her to focus, however, when she did, she was able to complete her school work. She was funny and her personality was unmatched. It is true, though, as you said, how an autistic child's perception differs and how it is important to adjust to that child's needs.

  2. i like this post because i have a friend whose son is autistic. the young man is very bright and he absolutely loves music and science. i recently read that autism occurs in about 1 in every 100 children born today which is a complete shocker!