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