A friend of mine who also has a son with autism forwarded me this information from an article.
Information Overload! Overwhelmed by irrelevant detail!
have discussed how, for people on the spectrum, since they have weak
neurological connections between the different brain centers (different
brain wiring), they have difficulty “rapidly processing multiple
information simultaneously.” This makes processing much of our fast
paced world very difficult and exhausting. We, neurotyical (NT) people,
can process rapidly changing information more rapidly because we "filter
out" all of the irrelevant information that is not important to the
central theme. This allows us to "attend to, and focus on" only the
information that is important to the topic of focus. There are some
differences in "attention" for people on the spectrum that make
this filtering very difficult.
1. Difficulty sorting out the
relevant information from background information. NT people easily
filter out 80% of information that is not important to the topic at
hand. People on the spectrum often take in and have to process all the
information. They either have difficulty filtering out information (take
in all) or they hyperfocus on a small detail, and cannot get past it.
Because of the problems filtering out irrelevant detail, people on the
spectrum often have difficulty understanding which detail is important
to attend to. They can become distracted by all the irrelevant detail
and lose sight of what is important to focus on. The important details
do not necessarily stand out like they do for us.
information is "attended to" NT people immediately categorize it into
concepts (files) based on past information and memory. Since people on
the spectrum have trouble filtering out irrelevant
information, they have to find categorizes to store and make sense out
of all the information. This drastically slows down processing, taxes,
drains, and overloads the brain. The brain cannot "categorize" all that
information as fast as it is coming in.
4. Many people on the
spectrum have difficulty "shifting attention" and tend to hyperfocus on
information too long; unable to let go and get past it. This drastically
slowing down processing. Their attention can get "stuck on" and caught
up in the detail, making it difficult to slide through the processing
quickly and easily.
5. Since people on the spectrum are so
hyperfocused on the details, they often do not see the “big picture”;
the overall meaning underlying all the details. Neurotypical people
immediately infer from a few pieces of detail what the overall picture
is. From there, they use this “overall meaning” to interpret the
individual details. We immediately look for the
invisible relationships between the parts that define the “whole”,
often ignoring each individual detail. Our brains immediately look for
meaning between the parts, so we can extract overall “big picture” and
move on. For people on the spectrum, who have difficulty reading these
invisible relationships, they have to piece together all the details to
arrive at the overall meaning. This is why people on the spectrum are
good detail thinkers and can do great work in engineering and computer
sciences. They see can see the imperfections in the details, that we
often miss. They can focus on all the individual details to a pattern,
and analyze them concretely.
You can see that
these "attention differences" can drastically slow down the processing
speed. When the information is coming in faster than the brain can
process and categorize it, then overload occurs, and the brain becomes
overwhelmed. So, please share this
"processing speed difficulty" with teachers. Slow the information down,
to allow the child to process and categorize it, at a pace that is
comfortable for their brains. It is not about "intelligence", it is
about speed of processing.