Meaning Deafness, Meaning Blindness, Body Disconnectedness; agnosias in the context of autism

Donna Williams, aged 9, with her brother.
Donna Williams, aged 9, with her brother.

˜Autism˜ is one word but underlying autistic development and behaviour can be a ˜fruit salad' of conditions. One of those is commonly Agnosias. Gnosia means ˜to know'. Agnosias are where the brain struggles to put meaning to incoming sensory information. Common agnosias in those with autism include Social Emotional Agnosia (difficulty reading facial expression/body language), Atonia (difficulty processing tone of voice), Prosopagnosia (face blindness), Visual Agnosia (meaning blindness, context blindness), Auditory Agnosia (difficulty distinguishing speech from other environmental sounds), Auditory Verbal Agnosia (meaning deafness), Visual Verbal Agnosia (difficulty reading with meaning), Body Agnosias (difficulty processing body messages and processing the body as a whole), Anosagnosia (difficulty perceiving ones own condition) and Alexithymia (difficulty processing ones emotions) may also be present.

Understanding agnosias may:

* Demonstrate the wide diversity of autistic realities and challenge old and new stereotypes of autism.

* Provide low cost and cost-free, easy to employ strategies for learning, bonding and behavior management.

* Help us better design learning environments for each individual.

* Form stronger social and emotional bonds based on which sensory perceptual channels are their greatest strengths.

* Help people reach their fullest potential.

* Help improve advocacy.


Donna Williams, Dip Ed, BA Hons.
Author, artist, autism consultant and public speaker.