Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Opposite of Seeing Everything

Last month I used an example from iRacing and my racing career to illustrate how I can see the whole picture and see small things or small things moving. While there are times I do see everything there are other times that there will be a major change and I will be oblivious to it.

Today's example will be a photo from my office:

This photo shows the Southeast corner and while it may not look impressive in terms of what is in the picture I assure you there is a story to tell.

About a month ago Heath, who is TouchPoint's Director of Facilities and Safety, stopped by my office and asked me, "Hey Aaron, how do you like the change?" I heard the question but sort of phased out trying to think of what was different. I looked around the office and then looked back at Heath completely perplexed.

Several awkward seconds passed as I was trying to figure out what was different or if this was a joke. Heath then said, "The Dell monitor boxes have finally been moved."

"Oh" I responded, "Wow, I can't believe I didn't notice!" You would be too if you knew how big those boxes were. Take a look back at my photo and imagine three Dell computer monitor boxes (and these were BIG screens circa 1999 at 37lbs each!) stacked almost to the ceiling. These boxes would be one of those things that someone would say a person, "could not possibly miss!" but I did.

I find this so odd about myself. There are certain things that if moved a couple inches I will notice and yet here are three gigantic boxes removed from an office I am in everyday and I did not notice even when told something changed in my environment.

As with a lot of other things I deal with, this is an all or nothing system. I will either notice it to the fullest extent or be 100% oblivious. Emily used to get annoyed with me because I was always oblivious to when she would change her hair style yet if she added something to the interior of her car, or the day she got a new bowling bag, I noticed.

There's people not on the spectrum that may miss a hair change, but I still can't believe I missed the three boxes. This is a great example, might be one of the better examples actually, of how the mind on the spectrum can have quirks. Using that iRacing post from last month I am sure I noticed things others have never even seen, yet something so huge removed was not noticed.

I personally don't know what to do about this. Is it problem? I wouldn't say so, but it is just another piece of the overall puzzle that is the autism spectrum and is a great illustration. Of course not everyone on the spectrum will have this in the way I have it. Another person may notice every item and if moved a millimeter they will move it back. Myself, well, I notice I lot of thing except when I don't and even when told there was a change I still will need help seeing what was removed.


  1. Aaron, my father bought my mother a huge portable dishwasher, (before the age of built ins), and piled it high with a paint tarp, dishes, boxes, and papers. He rolled it into the kitchen before she got home from work and she never saw it through the whole time of making and serving dinner when she walked past it many times. She even took things from on top of it to move them places, but she never saw that machine, that 9+ cubic foot machine in the kitchen. Not everyone sees everything. And some just don't see something missing. I vote it isn't a problem!

  2. Personally I think these are two sides of the same coin. I have Asperser’s and I find that I have to either notice something consciously or not notice it at all. I don't seem to be able to look at things generally and let some automated or subconscious process bring to consciousness only through things that are new and interesting. The iRacing items were in the visual field you had to pay attention to to win the game so your concisions mind had to sort through them. There was nothing you needed to do in the corner of your office so that visual field was not consciously monitore