Posts Tagged ‘differences’

Mac in an IBM world?

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

The Apple Mac in an IBM world…… not a new concept……… just my take on it.


Imagine you work in a company that runs networked IBM computers and you have the only computer with a different operating system such as Apple or Linux. What does this mean for you? It may mean every time you get a file from your colleagues and try to open it is not formatted properly or it is unreadable. Imagine that many of these files were vital to your operations and as a result of not being able to read them or only receiving part of them you were not able to fulfill your position in the company. Then imagine that your computer has trouble operating properly even as a stand alone unit. You have a number of programs that are supposed to run simultaneously but when you try to do that programs keep shutting down. You also have databases in which information is stored but you can only access this information one database at a time so it is difficult to cross reference or combine different types of information.

Autism is somewhat like this, the autistic brain is like a different operating system that doesn’t process information in the same ways that a typical brain processes information. The neurotypical (normal) brain is like the IBM system and the Autistic like the Apple or Linux. They are both computers but because of their differences they don’t share all of the same language. What is particularly difficult for the autistic brain is the processing and combining all of the social parts of communication, particularly its non verbal components. This is because like the computer described earlier the autistic brain has difficulty running two or more programs at once so whilst a person may be able to pay attention to the sound of someone’s voice they do not have the capacity to simultaneously observe facial expression or body language or conversely by paying attention to the visual details of a person’s mouth they miss the content of the speech. Sometimes the brain is unsure about which information to process with its limited resources so it shuts down all of its “programs” leaving the person confused and anxious and unable to communicate.  And like the computer I describe with its isolated databases, being unable to cross reference information also means that people may have problem combining different types of information such as fact and feeling, self with other, and thought with action.

For the person with autism an effective education is like a software upgrade for the computer described, it allows people to make better sense of incoming information, helps improve simultaneous information processing. Effective educators present information in a format that can be understood by the person with autism typically this is a visual format ranging from pictures to words or combinations of both. People with autism prefer routines so that they can predict what types of information they will be required to process and when and so that they can prepare themselves for this interaction.

What this translates to in daily life is somewhat of an uneven profile of talents and difficulties to be explored by the autistic and his or her supporters.

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