kids with Autism see shadows differently

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2003
kids with Autism see shadows differently
Tue, 05-25-2010 - 7:41am

I found this article fascinating. I wonder if it explains Peter's terror of shadows as a young child and needing a light on in his room.

Oh and I had to single this out for special attention:

**During the course of the experiments, the children sometimes required snacks, and the researchers learned that autistic children typically have specific rules regarding food that should not be violated.

"For instance, in one case the child started screaming despite us giving him his preferred snack," said researcher Umberto Castiello, a neuropsychologist at the University of Padua in Italy. "We got very worried and asked the parents to enter the room. They entered and very calmly they said, 'Ah, OK, the snacks are not all of the same color!' For another case, same thing, same sequence of facts — the parents entered the room and said, 'Ah, OK, you did not present the snacks in a particular order.' Then, same thing with another child, and the parents said, 'Of course, the foods touch each other on the plate.'" **

I love how researchers (and this guy is a neuropsychologist!) present stuff we parents have known for years as if it is some big revelation.

(and BTW, researchers: It doesn't begin and end with snacks...)


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Edited 5/25/2010 7:51 am ET by specialmomx2

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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2005
Tue, 05-25-2010 - 8:53am

Good grief! No wonder we get so frustrated when the "experts" are barely figuring out the basic concepts of autism (routines with food). I thought the shadow info was quite interesting, though!

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-2006
Tue, 05-25-2010 - 12:42pm

I'd be skeptical about drawing the conclusion that autistic people see shadows differently from that experiment. They say that they showed computerized versions of objects, but I wonder what that means, exactly. If I draw a vase on Paint, and add a shadow to it, that's going to be a completely different visual image than seeing an actual vase in the room, casting a natural shadow. I assume the pictures they used were more realistic that anything I could draw on Paint, of course, but seeing shadows in a real, 3D environment is totally different than seeing them in a computer-generated drawing.

It's an interesting idea, though. I don't doubt that, in general, people on the spectrum see things a bit differently.

The thing about the snacks is kind of funny, as well as frustrating. Silly researchers!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Tue, 05-25-2010 - 6:50pm

We also had a terror of shadows.


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-07-2008
Wed, 05-26-2010 - 8:46am

They'll have gotten a lot of funding for that :-)

Although, to be fair to my 'profession', as parents we are experts in our particular children because we deal with them 24/7. Researchers see a huge range of different people (and if they are generalists rather than specialists in ASD will see a huge range of people with different conditions) for maybe a few hours. They'll have read a lot of 'theory' and done some hard science, but my own theory about ASD is that it needs more "social science" research than "hard science" research: I think it would be more helpful to us (as in our kids, and ourselves and our families) to understand the social context of ASD than the specific neuroscience. It doesn't really help me one iota to know that bits of Euan's neurology work differently, but it does help me to understand how NT people perceive ASD people, and how ASD people experience the world.

anyway, that's just me!


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