Tuesday, March 07, 2006

"It's the Attention to Detail That Slows You Down"

Insightful interview with the autistic author of a memoir entitled "Send In the Idiots"

" 'And,' he says, 'none of us has direct insight of someone else's feelings. We don't know when someone is in pain. We think they are in pain because we see them react. Autistic people don't pick up on those cues. It's not that they are incapable. They might be noticing instead the pattern of coals in the fireplace or the details on the lamp and so on.'

It's the attention to detail that slows you down, he says. To the tormented souls at the dark end of the autism spectrum, everything is detail. They lack category awareness. They can't see the wood for the trees, or the trees for the bark, or the bark for the wavy lines. Their minds are so consumed by the struggle to take meaning from life's blizzard of information that what other people are up to is of no more consequence than the movement of the planets."

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