If your partner or loved one has “ASD”, are you familiar with “context blindness?”
Context blindness is something that happens to people with “Asperger Syndrome”. For most people, context is a natural part of life. Everything is relative and depends on the context. For someone with “Asperger’s”, life is absolute – especially in regard to social interaction. Context blindness hinders an individual from being sensitive and aware of the feelings of others. You can also read an older post I wrote about “Mind Blindness and the Disconnect in Asperger Syndrome Relationships”.
Dr. Peter Vermeulen discusses context blindness is his book, “Autism as Context Blindness”. He brilliantly describes how the autistic brain works and includes practical exercises to help improve in the area of context blindness.
I found a good summary of his book on www.autism.net and I’d like to share it below:
“Context Blindness is a theory developed by Dr. Peter Vermeulen, a psychologist and the co-director of the Center for Concrete Communication in Belgium.
“The human brain is very sensitive to context and this contextual sensitivity plays a crucial role in many cognitive abilities that are affected in ASD, such as face perception, emotion recognition, the understanding of language and communication, and problem solving. Context refers to the circumstances or events that form the environment within which something exists or takes place. Context reveals and directs our perception and therefore influences and directs our response.
“For example, there is no one correct answer to any of these questions:
What is the polite way to greet someone?
What is a good birthday gift for a friend?
What does a woman feel when you smile at her?
Can you touch someone’s hair?
What is the ideal distance between you and another person?
What would you tell someone about yourself?
“It all depends on the context. Contextual sensitivity works at a subconscious level to: help us focus on the essential; make the world around us more predictable; and help us to find the right meaning in vague situations when multiple meanings are possible.”
Is your “Aspie’s” behavior starting to make more sense now?
Neurotypicals still have to find ways to cope with the abusiveness and cluelessness of their “Aspie” loved ones, but I do think the theory of Context Blindness helps in this regard.
First, just understanding better how your “Aspie” thinks, or better said what is missing from their thinking, is tremendously helpful. It is far worse to stand there dumbfounded by the craziness.
Second, Context Blindness is a step in the right direction for finding solutions for “Aspies”. They may not be able to rewire those parts of the brain that contributes to organising the social context of life, but they can learn to be less defensive. It’s vital to reduce anxiety and defensiveness if an NT/”AS” couple stands a ghost of a chance.
Third, with understanding comes the ability to drop the NT’s defensiveness and guilt and myriad other co-dependent behaviors. It’s easier to detach from the anger, hurt and blame, when you realize that it is not your fault. When you learn that there really is very little you can do about the problem . . . well that’s a kind of freedom, don’t you think?
How can you tell if you’re co-dependent on your “Aspie”? I wrote a blog post to guide you to your own answer. Ask yourself a few questions and answer truthfully. You can find the blog post here.
Context Blindness is one of the many themes we discuss through video conferences and free teleconferences (soon podcasts too) in our private group, “Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD.” This group has been created from a need of our community to gather in a safe and private place to discuss our daily difficulties and problems. If you are a partner or have a loved one suffering from “Asperger Syndrome”, I invite you to join our community. Visit our group to see how our home looks.