Autism and Sensory Experiences

Crown details differences in how people who are on the autism spectrum and those who are not may perceive the world.  She reports that “over 90% of people with autism process perceptual information in atypical ways (Crane et al., 2009). Any stimulus may be experienced as too intense, too weak, or as simply un-integrate-able. . . . The soothing touch of a parent may be experienced as intrusive, a sound inaudible to the average ear may be excruciating and the sight of a rose may elicit pure joy.  . . . . [People on the autism spectrum] over-focus on detail and do not take in the big picture.  . . . Peter Vermeulen (2012) extended Frith’s ‘Central Coherence Theory,’ pointing out that not only do people with autism over-focus on the trees at the expense of the forest, but they also do not use the forest to contextualize the trees. He uses the term ‘context blindness’ to refer to ‘a deficit in the ability to use context spontaneously and subconsciously to determine meanings’.”

For information on designing to support the neurodiverse, read this article.  

Nancy Crown.  2022. “Oh No!  I See a Pit:  Making Sense of the Sensory on the Autism Spectrum.”  Psychoanalytic Psychology, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 127-134, https://doi.org/10.1037/pap0000381