Celebrate the Children: Alternative Visual Styles – Part 4

Lisa, Christian’s supported typing trainer at Celebrate the Children, has been sharing my blogs with him.  Yesterday I received an email from Lisa in which she relayed Christian’s comments to me as typed on his tablet:

I am happy to hear about your blog.  I am thinking you are right on the mark about my vision.  I am always taking in many pictures of everything.  I take a bunch of pictures at once and sometimes it washes out my thinking and i just get stuck on the pictures in my mind.  I get mad sometimes because I want the pictures to stop but it is constant and so i avoid looking at things to much especially things that move or change because then each picture is different and then it is confusing in my mind.
He will understand what I mean.

Yes, Christian.  I understand what you mean – and thanks for sharing your perceptions and feelings.  To review, my premise is that many individuals with ASD function with a heightened visual sense of periphery.  This may be adaptive in nature, to de-tune the flood of incoming information exactly as Christian describes.  Another possibility is that many individuals with ASD have diffuse motor control issues, and that eye movement imprecision for central looking predisposes them to function better with peripheral looking.  It may be a bit of chicken/egg conundrum, but the outcome is the same – resulting in Christian’s type of alternative visual style.



In this regard, an interesting paper in the European Journal of Neuroscience supports the notion that there is atypical cortical representation of peripheral visual space in children with ASD.  The data shows that children with ASD, in this study ages 7-17, have somewhat less cortical magnification in the central visual field.  As shown in the figure below, this results in a reduction of cortical area at central locations compared with typically developing (TD) participants, but a marked increase at peripheral locations around 5°



This was confirmed by visual evoked potentials (VEPs) and visually evoked spread spectrum response potentials (VESPA) for all conditions of stimuli presented centrally (left column) and in the periphery (right column) as shown below.

VEP in ASD 2

John Foxe, one of the paper’s authors, explains its significance in this YouTube video:

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