Memory and Autism

photo of girl sitting near christmas tree
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For those who see that all in their child with Autism is bleak – please see a light of strength that they may possess.  The challenge to consider is how to use this productively:

“Visual memory for some types of material has been found to be an area of strength for children with autism but complexity of the stimuli appears to affect memory function in this modality as well. Interestingly, the right hemisphere may compensate for Visual memory for some types of material that has been found to be an area of strength for children with autism but the complexity of the stimuli appears to affect memory function”  (Prior & Chen, 1976).

With this knowledge – take a look at the text and alphabet letters that were duplicated from memory by an autistic individual who had viewed this page in the book Chicka Chicka Boom https://www.amazon.com/Chicka-Boom-Board-Book/dp/1442450703 Book/dp/1442450703    Hayden Gonzales posted this to Facebook on December 26, 2019. Thank you for bringing this to light!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is an easy story whose words are marvelous for teaching young children the alphabet. In fact, the following link provides some information about how the book can be used to elicit language development http://doodlebugshomeschool.blogspot.com/2011/08/chicka-chicka-boom-boom-with-l

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https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/neu-20121.pdf   “memory in autism appears to be organized differently than in normal individuals — reflecting differences in the development of brain connections with the frontal cortex”.

The post brought to mind my first cousin. Jerry was diagnosed with autism at a very young age and at a point when not much was known about the disorder.  He would memorize calendars and could tell you what day of the week you were born on, for example, four or even five years ago.  How remarkable, I thought. I wondered why – perhaps research now is answering that question.

What Is Declarative Memory? This is an area of strength in those who are autistic.  \

Your ability to recall addresses, locations of parking garages, intersection names, phone numbers, and an experience that you had at a restaurant are all a part of declarative memory. Declarative memory, also referred to as explicit memory, is the memory of facts, data, and events. For example, let’s say that you know that your favorite restaurant is only open until 6 PM on Sundays. The time that the restaurant closes is stored as a declarative memory. We can consciously recall declarative memory. Declarative memory is a type of long-term memory.  Here is a functional strategy that may be useful for daily activities that require this:

http://autism.sesamestreet.org/daily-routine-cards/?fbclid=IwAR0VKcWb_ZAHzheWdgT7ekqhwG_NuW8JLOMtCHZyT4PnolRXeyq6oeXxLSw

Declarative memory seems to help individuals with autism compensate for social deficits by memorizing scripts for navigating social situations. It supports the learning of strategies to overcome language or reading difficulties not only in autism, but also in SLI and dyslexia. And it appears to help people with OCD or Tourette syndrome learn to control compulsions and tics.

black and white blackboard business chalkboard
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References:

https://study.com/academy/lesson/declarative-memory-definition-examples-quiz.html

https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/01/autism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism_and_memory

Read the journal article

Prior MR, Chen CS. Short-term and serial memory in autistic, retarded, and normal children. Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia. 1976;6:121–131. [PubMed[]

http://www.judyendow.com/sensory-solutions/autism-and-the-sensory-system-part-6-of-8/

 
 
 

  Lindsay Strachan Fofana Thank you for this! My almost 4 year old son is receptive and expressive language delayed but loves to learn and seemingly has photographic memory. Yesterday he spelled his name backwards. I explained to him what he had done and he was tickled! It’s very promising and always exciting.

One thought on “Memory and Autism

  1. Recognize me, I have self Autism and good memory, both long and short-term memory, but sometimes with what I call cognitive delays (based on stress probably) so sometimes it takes time to remember. I read and remember numbers differently, like phone numbers, I divide the number into other and larger numbers than others which of course becomes easier to remember

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