Eyes & Gestures problems (maybe an answer as to why)

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StarCity
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30 Sep 2013, 3:40 am

I was looking in the mirror whilst shaving, and suddenly thought....
On the test to see if people can "see" what emotion the other person is feeling just from the picture of the eyes I score high. I suddenly realized how I do it:
I look at the picture & then my brain "scans" through the eyes of people I have seen in my life, looking for matches. When a probable match is found in my mind I "play" the "recording" of the event where in my life I saw a person expressing the same eye look.

The above isn't what I found interesting; what struck me was that this means that the ability to read eyes must be a learnt thing, as it is not naturally programmed in. This seeming to be the case it therefore follows that making the gestures in the first place must be learnt. This can be demonstrated by smiling at a baby. The usual response is for the baby to smile back. Does the baby feel happy, or is it mimicking/copying the person who smiled in the first place.

Expressing emotions using the eyes & or face must be learnt during development by mimicking.

It therefore may be that the reason that many people with ASD have difficulty in "reading" eyes & facial expressions is not directly due to the autism but because many do not make eye contact and therefore have not had the opportunity to learn what expression means what emotion.



AshTrees
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30 Sep 2013, 4:15 am

I've heard that theory given for why people with autism may struggle to recognize familair people. Because they may not look directly at that person's face, it's harder to remember them.


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30 Sep 2013, 5:12 am

AshTrees wrote:
I've heard that theory given for why people with autism may struggle to recognize familair people. Because they may not look directly at that person's face, it's harder to remember them.


It's possible, but I don't think that's the whole story. I've had a number of cases of seeing photos of people and then meeting them IRL and not recognising them. Even though I did look directly at their faces.

This may have something to do with me exhibiting mild prosopagnosia (face blindness). It took me a while as a kid to learn to distinguish people by their faces. I'm told it's a misconception that prosopagnosia is absolute; in most cases people can learn the skill of recognising faces.



Aspendos
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30 Sep 2013, 7:43 am

StarCity wrote:
I look at the picture & then my brain "scans" through the eyes of people I have seen in my life, looking for matches. When a probable match is found in my mind I "play" the "recording" of the event where in my life I saw a person expressing the same eye look.


That's not how everyone does it, though. It's an autistic coping mechanism because it doesn't come naturally to you. NTs don't do that; I don't do it either.



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30 Sep 2013, 10:44 am

Aspendos wrote:
That's not how everyone does it, though. It's an autistic coping mechanism because it doesn't come naturally to you. NTs don't do that; I don't do it either.


Hi Aspendos,

Thank you for your reply.

How do NT's do it?

Also, what method do you use?

I am intrigued now as I thought that the method I use is the same one that EVERYONE uses (NT's and people on the AS). In fact this method of 'scanning' through 'recorded' information/data looking for a 'match' is the way that I do most things.
I pressumed that that's how everyone does things.



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30 Sep 2013, 10:48 am

what regard as one of my AS strengths has been becoming aware of cognitive/emotional processes that most people are not really consciously aware of. partly because i've had to work consciously on them, partly because i think my brain is just aware of itself in a different way.

so i think it's possible this OPs awareness detects a process others take for granted, like balance, face awareness, the ability to filter out extraneous noise, etc.

with that said i'd have to give it some time and thought before i could say whether i do this or not.


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Aspendos
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30 Sep 2013, 11:16 am

StarCity wrote:
Aspendos wrote:
That's not how everyone does it, though. It's an autistic coping mechanism because it doesn't come naturally to you. NTs don't do that; I don't do it either.


Hi Aspendos,

Thank you for your reply.

How do NT's do it?

Also, what method do you use?

I am intrigued now as I thought that the method I use is the same one that EVERYONE uses (NT's and people on the AS). In fact this method of 'scanning' through 'recorded' information/data looking for a 'match' is the way that I do most things.
I pressumed that that's how everyone does things.


I rather suspect that having to go through a large archive of stored information is why the brains of people on the spectrum get overloaded when engaging in social interaction, and that's why many of us don't look others in the eyes, so as to avoid this overload.

On that same test trying to read emotions in just the eyes I scored (at the AS assessment) slightly below (NT) average. Actually, come to think of it during the test I may have done something similar to what you describe - I didn't remember any particular situation or event in which I had seen that expression of the eyes, and certainly didn't play a mental recording, but I thought about what each of the pictured eye expressions meant and must have accessed my memory to figure it out (but this would include facial expressions I've seen on TV, for example). However, I didn't really have time to do this in any depth, it was more by way of association and guessing, and I assume that during that same test NTs would indeed do the same.

It's an extremely artificial situation, though, as in real life you see the entire face, not just the eyes, and in real life I don't access any memories as far as I'm aware. You said you just figured out how you do it. I don't really know how I do it, just know that it's not like that. And I've never heard or read about any NT doing it like this either. I assume that if I don't do it, they for sure don't. I suspect I use a different coping mechanism like reading "around" the eyes, i.e. position of eyebrows, are the eyes more or less closed, what do I see on the rest of the face (corners of the mouth up or down, and so on), but I'm not doing it consciously, it's quick and automatic as far as I can tell (even if it may not come naturally to me either). That's only true for the simple everyday emotions, though, if it gets more complex I really don't know what to read from people's faces and I listen to what and how they say it instead (content, intonation, etc.) - more like a blind man, I suppose.

I'm also not NT in that I don't mimic others, i.e. my face shows little emotions, and if someone smiles at me, I don't smile back (usually).



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30 Sep 2013, 12:40 pm

Thank you Aspendos for your explanation :D



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30 Sep 2013, 12:41 pm

Opi wrote:
what regard as one of my AS strengths has been becoming aware of cognitive/emotional processes that most people are not really consciously aware of. partly because i've had to work consciously on them, partly because i think my brain is just aware of itself in a different way.

so i think it's possible this OPs awareness detects a process others take for granted, like balance, face awareness, the ability to filter out extraneous noise, etc.

with that said i'd have to give it some time and thought before i could say whether i do this or not.


Thank you Opi.
I look forward to reading your findings in regard to this topic.