Monday, 12 August 2013

Beautiful Detail - Noticing Life's Little Things

I often think that ASDs are portrayed in such a negative light. Everyone, including a lot of charities, seems to focus on the bad. The communication difficulties, the hypersensitivity, the effect on families (I had to link Autism Speaks somewhere, they spend far too much time showing autism as a totally negative 'disease'). But there are positives too. This article lists a lot of the advantages of Asperger's Syndrome. Today I'd like to focus on one part; the attention to detail.

A common trait of those with ASDs is being easily distracted, and having a wandering mind. We also tend to see the details in things rather than the overall item. Like looking at a leaf on a tree and ignoring the rest of it. Sometimes this is a bad thing, like when we need to focus and concentrate in school, but at other times it can actually be a great help, or at least something to break the monotony of everyday life.

Imagine you're on a walk to the shops. What do you see? A few people, maybe a car going too fast, maybe a couple of things that shouldn't be there. But that's it, right? Now, let's walk the path again, this time in my shoes. As soon as I leave the house, the first thing I notice is the temperature difference. It's warmer than yesterday. There's a crisp packet that's blown into the corner between the fence and the house. As I'm walking, I run my hand across the walls of a house, tracing the mortar between the bricks. It's interesting to feel the different textures. I hear the cars on the dual carriageway, hidden by the trees. There are a few high pitched engines, no doubt boy racers, along with a few deeper sounding rumbles of trucks in among the usual drone of car tyres and 1.6L engines. I step around the cracks in the pavements, not because I'm superstitious, but because it's fun to notice and avoid them. Walking past some trees, I notice the slight rustle of the wind through them (which incidentally keeps blowing through the arms of my jacket). I also look at some of the different leaves as I pass. When I get to the shops, I wander in, ready to notice more completely pointless yet interesting things.

A bit different isn't it? I think, once you know how much more we notice with our senses, it's easier to understand why we sometimes feel overwhelmed and start to melt down. I mean, adding emotions and demands on top of all that is a lot to process. Quite often on my walks I just put some earphones in and think instead, blocking everything out and walking on 'autopilot' so I can have time to myself to just think, like I've mentioned in this post. This attention to detail applies everywhere. Sometimes it means I completely miss something blatantly obvious, because I'm staring at all the little things and not noticing what I'm looking for. Sort of like a literal interpretation of not seeing the wood for the trees.

I hope this post has helped a little with understanding how people like me think and see the world. I'll be back soon, and I hope you join me!


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