Are autistic people "processing the wrong things"?

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KitLily
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07 Jun 2022, 10:46 am

I just read an article by Elaine Aron (who discovered Highly Sensitive People) https://medium.com/the-shadow/opinion-h ... 2821a4eb73

She said that HSP is different to autism because 'Those with an ASD are always processing the wrong things'

At first I thought, ‘don't tell me what to process and focus on!’ And then I thought maybe that's it! That's what autistic people do.

I know certainly I focus on the 'wrong thing' instead of thinking, ‘what's the most important thing that just happened?’

For example when a car crashed into my front gate I was so busy focusing on and processing how upset I was that my husband's beautiful, handmade gate had been broken, that I forgot to focus on calling the police to report the crime and assessing the damage.

Obviously there's no right or wrong thing to focus on or process but it would explain a hell of a lot about why autistic people seem weird to neurotypicals.

What do people think?


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kitesandtrainsandcats
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07 Jun 2022, 11:19 am

KitLily wrote:
What do people think?


Looking at that,

Quote:
Those with an ASD are always processing the wrong things and always experiencing chaos unless they are able to shut themselves off from the world entirely.


I wonder whether she actually legitimately documented "always" or merely assumed "always".


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Joe90
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07 Jun 2022, 11:32 am

"Always" can be a figure of speech and doesn't necessarily mean "100% of the time".

I'm not sure I do this or not. Maybe but not enough to cause problems. I see where you're coming from though. But I have attention difficulties so I just put it down to that.

I know my brain can be totally distracted by an unpleasant noise and I can't concentrate on anything else. Like if there is a toddler screaming in a supermarket, my whole brain fills up with the noise and I can't block it out or steer my attention away from it even though I want to. I can't rationalise that "it's just a baby and that's what they do and so I've just got to learn to ignore it". I can't think that way. The noise makes me too anxious and irritable and nothing can take my attention away from it. Babies crying is annoying even NTs, but when you are on the spectrum and have ADHD and sound sensory issues and anxiety then it's going to be much more catastrophic for me.


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MaxE
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07 Jun 2022, 11:35 am

KitLily wrote:
She said that HSP is different to autism because 'Those with an ASD are always processing the wrong things'

Yep.


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shortfatbalduglyman
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07 Jun 2022, 11:36 am

"always processing the wrong things"

If there is one exception, "always" is wrong

Exaggeration for emphasis

What is the "wrong" thing to process according to whom, neurotypicals?

Your reaction to your fence getting damaged is not "wrong". It is just your natural reaction


You did not damage the fence



ToughDiamond
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07 Jun 2022, 11:53 am

I've noticed I have trouble prioritising things if I don't deliberately make an effort to look at the big picture. So I forget to consult my sense of priority and end up doing things regardless of what the best thing to do might be. But I rarely forget tasks that are worryingly important, they rattle round my head.

So I think there's some truth in it. I suppose I'm lucky to have some intuitive grasp of priority, though it's not enough to make it easy to process tasks in the best order. But I wonder how well the general population does with this.



kitesandtrainsandcats
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07 Jun 2022, 11:58 am

Joe90 wrote:
"Always" can be a figure of speech and doesn't necessarily mean "100% of the time".


Which raises the questions of what else did she say that doesn't really mean what she said?

Is that the only time she didn't really mean what she said or are there other times?

And if so, WHICH times?

:arrow: And now that it is shown that she is prone to exaggeration, WHAT ELSE is she exaggerating?


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KitLily
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07 Jun 2022, 12:42 pm

I agree with everyone who is pointing out that 'always' is a vast generalisation.

Elaine Aron is very concerned that people are confusing HSP with autism. I wish I hadn't mentioned who said it now and distracted everyone. I wanted to focus on the difference between neurotypical processing and autistic processing.

We're all correct that there is no 'wrong' or 'right' thing to process. It would have been better for Elaine to say something like 'processing unusual/ subjective/ niche things' perhaps.

About the car crashing into my gate, my reaction of mourning the gate instead of calling the police led to the car driver saying he'd mend the gate, then he sent a bullying builder round to question me about how often I used the gate, saying the gate was rotten before the crash etc. implying I was being unreasonable wanting a new gate to replace the perfectly good original one. It was scary and tiring. If I'd just called the police the minute the car crashed into the gate, they would have dealt with it. So in that case, I did focus on the wrong thing. But next time I'll know better :P

But thanks for saying I'm perfectly reasonable to focus on whatever I want to focus on in the car crash/gate situation :D

However, the main thing I'll take away from what Elaine Aron said is for myself to prioritise better. I'm usually okay at it, but I can learn to be better e.g. being present in the moment and not away in a daydream about something.

I hope that makes some kind of sense :lol:


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Dear_one
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07 Jun 2022, 3:16 pm

"Wrong" is probably intended to mean "atypical" - we notice or ignore a different set of stimuli. However, I don't think the NT selection is "right" because the whole world seems headed for multiple crises that I spent my life trying to avert.



jimmy m
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07 Jun 2022, 3:40 pm

I do not represent all Aspies or ASD but my brain looks at things from many different angles. Most NTs go to only one viewpoint. But in my case I look at things from several different viewpoints. It takes longer to think this way and that is why I am slow when communicating. But this approach just takes a little more time to process.


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shortfatbalduglyman
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07 Jun 2022, 5:47 pm

Dear_one wrote:
"Wrong" is probably intended to mean "atypical" - we notice or ignore a different set of stimuli. However, I don't think the NT selection is "right" because the whole world seems headed for multiple crises that I spent my life trying to avert.

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Just because the autistic response is less common than the neurotypical response, doesn't mean the autistic response is "wrong "

The solar system contains more convicted felons , than Nobel prize winners in literature. The activity with more participants, not always morally superior to the activity with fewer participants

Besides the solar system contains more neurotypicals than autistics

So autistics and other minorities frequently outnumbered and overpowered



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07 Jun 2022, 5:54 pm

"Processing things wrong" are generally true in cases of executive dysfunctions in general.

But which, specifically?
Was it the cases where impulsivity came first before "planning and thinking" prioritization?
Was it the cases of actual organization of thought?
Was it to do in cases of 'shortsightedness'? But in which angle? Cognitive rigidity or working memory deficit?


Outside EF issues, it's more or less about scaffolding like models of teaching.
What are the odds an NT parent (or teacher) can explain let alone teach an autistic how to prioritize their way without skipping a single step and dismiss reasons as 'common sense'?

Though in cases of studying, how much of classroom drills translates to real life is yet to be known...


When I do not have those stupid ADD-like symptoms, I do not process things wrong. Whenever I get those stupid symptoms, it's not atypical but outright wrong, immature AND stupid.

When I don't have those nuisances, my processes are atypical but orderly and in multiple angles in which anyone can choose to improve upon.


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Redd_Kross
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07 Jun 2022, 6:05 pm

I remember reading once that newborns don't have any observation and experience filters. They process all information they encounter as being of exactly the same importance. Then, over time, they learn to filter out a lot of humdrum information in order to focus on what's new, urgent, important or particularly interesting. Presumably so they waste less time and brain-power on stuff that isn't going to be particularly useful.

It strikes me that ASD might involve the development of that filtering ability being somehow altered or impaired. I don't think we lack it entirely. If there is a link then it's most likely different for each individual - at least in terms of consequences (there might be a common cause).



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08 Jun 2022, 5:55 am

A few years ago my distraught wife called to tell me she had run into a fence (she had been distracted by a spider). Sensing she wasn't hurt, I immediately focused on whether the owner of the fence would demand a lot of money from us to repair or replace the fence, so my first questions for her had to do with what type of fence she'd run into and how badly it was damaged. She didn't leave me.


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klanka
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08 Jun 2022, 7:17 am

So instead of wrong planet its wrong stimuli then



KitLily
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08 Jun 2022, 8:07 am

I agree completely that 'wrong' is the wrong word. lol. As I said before, better words would be 'unusual/ subjective/ niche things'.

Jimmy M-
I also agree that looking at things from all different angles is more what autistic people do, but sometimes that paralyses us into not doing anything. Well it does that with me anyway. I'm so busy thinking about the different angles that I don't do something quickly enough for the neurotypical world. And they move on quickly and often take advantage :x


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