Vision, Hearing, and Autism-Like Symptoms

Lots of people have suggested to me that I'm on the Autism spectrum. I have a hypothesis that the true cause of my vaguely Asperger's-like symptoms isn't neurological in my case, but comes from other contingent circumstances

My poor eyesight caused me to have glasses, which cause me to get visual data and feedback only from places near the center of my vision. This made me better at narrow-focus activities like reading, computer use, one on one social interaction, and strength training (because peripheral visual info wasn't good enough to be distracting) and worse at awareness-based activities like navigating larger social groups, or sports. A friend recently noted that when he switched from glasses to contacts, widening his effective field of vision, all of a sudden the outdoors became appealing. This seems like it's probably generalizable.

A narrow field of vision made direct eye contact more overwhelming than usual because a larger percentage of my effective visual field was dominated by someone's face than usual, so subjectively for me it was as if we were staring at each other from much closer.

This also meant I was basically never getting incidental social feedback through face or body language when my gaze was elsewhere.

Asymmetric hearing loss (almost no hearing in one ear, diminished hearing in the other) also contributed. It meant I would miss softer audial cues, again penalizing awareness-based activities more than narrow-focus ones. It also meant that I'd often want to turn my good ear towards people when conversing with them instead of looking at them, which meant I got even less feedback from their face, and accustomed me to paying attention to the words and not the expressions.

This may also be why I, like my mother, have persistent shoulder and lower neck tension more than anywhere else in the body: because we're always straining our necks, turning to hear and see things or lean in to listen.

I doubt that the whole story is true, but it's an interesting hypothesis to play with. It's certainly caused me to prioritize improving my vision and hearing correction equipment.

8 thoughts on “Vision, Hearing, and Autism-Like Symptoms

  1. Pingback: Verbal communication | Compass Rose

  2. Pingback: The biggest sensation I’ve ever seen | Compass Rose

  3. Pingback: Admonition | Compass Rose

  4. Pingback: Group cognition | Compass Rose

  5. freeway

    So... i have read through all 4 thoughts on "Vision, Hearing, and Autism-Like Symptoms"... and my response is:
    Are you absolutely sure you are not an Aspie? I reason through your hypothesis, and come to the same question regardless.

    1. Benquo Post author

      There are lots of things Autistics report that I don't experience at all. Things like only being able to feel one thing at a time, difficulty holding boundaries between self and other, sensory meltdowns, etc. I seem to *only* have the convenient traits (even though they carry some costs). If I'm Autistic, then it's clearly not a disorder or substantial disability per se, it's just having at least a moderately high value on some parameter that varies widely in the population.

  6. Purplehermann

    I've had similar thoughts - I've had glasses since young, and cheated on hearing tests in school to pass (I'd heard that it was bad to fail so I made sure not to), have difficulty hearing and was tone deaf till my teens (my musical ability is still abysmal but I can tell that myself now).

    I find groups stressful and am bad at them, but 1 on 1 is usually fine and leading a group is easy (just treat the group as a single hindmive).

    Any advice you have for improving social ability would be appreciated, including links to appropriate posts

  7. Pingback: The Logic of Pol Pot | Compass Rose

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *