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Sanctuary

Memory and AS

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Sanctuary

Sometimes it is suggested that people with AS have above-average memory skills. I'm not sure this is the case. In terms of using memory for learning I think so much depends on general interest in the area being studied and it can be as hard for someone on the spectrum to remember information on a topic of little interest to them as it is for neurotypicals. Perhaps our tendency to be engage in organised, systematic thinking may offer some memory advantage but not enough to outweigh more general issues of interest and ability.

Another area in which memory is important is in remembering past experiences and events. It's always much easier to remember things that are unusual - unusually good, unusually bad or simply exceptional. Those with more experiences, especially of varied kinds, may find it harder to recall specific events while those with more limited experiences may find more things stand out from the norm and stick in their mind.

Individuals with AS often have more limited social lives and fewer social relationships. This may mean that the social experiences they do have are more likely to stick in their minds compared to their more social counterparts. This may mean retaining a more vivid memory of a recent but apparently routine encounter but also remembering encounters and relationships from many years ago which have been long forgotten by the others involved. This certainly seems true for me but memory of past social events may be less strong for more social Aspies.

Those with AS are generally less adept at dealing with change and more likely to have lives patterned by routine and predictability. This may result in those occasions of change and break in routine being better remembered than for the rest of the population. Overall I'm suggesting what we remember is heavily affected by our personal characteristics and especially by "breaks from the norm". We are all affected by AS in different ways so some with sensory issues may retain strong memories of sights, sounds and smells that are quickly forgotten by others on the spectrum.

Do others feel memory is patterned in these ways? 

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Gone away

There are many times I don't even know what day it is and days I do. Some seemingly insignificant memories of small detail or comment just stick for reasons unknown
The whole ASC characteristics thing I find a constant paradox swinging from ability to disability and back again.
Some of Tony Buzans early books like 'use your memory' and 'use your head' are informative and insightful around using the brain in general.
I agree that social isolation and sensory processing issues can make for vivid memories (or traumas).
In some areas, I find it very hard and question how it even possible to compare to an NT experience when I will never have the NT experience as a reference point to compare anything to
 

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collectingrocks

My memory is generally awful and I have tried lots of memory exercises to no avail. I'm beginning to think there is no hope from me.

However, it's wierd as I can remember many past events personal to me and things relative to one of my main hobbies. But remembering things like scripts and figures - even people's names I see regularly - are difficult for me

 

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Gone away
1 hour ago, collectingrocks said:

even people's names I see regularly

I do have a genuine problem with names ... maybe its just lack of interest

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RiRi

@Sanctuary That's interesting. I do generally tend to have a great memory when it comes to things that happened in my past. It's interesting to know that it might be associated with having strong sensory issues because I do fall into that category. I'm hypersensitive. 

I also tended to be very good with memorizing things. Even if there was nothing to remember that item by. Like I'd just repeat it or write it over a hundred times and it'd stick. 

Now, memory about appointments and whatnot, I'm not very good with that. I'm never in charge of my own appointments. I have even forgotten my phone at times. But I think this also has to do with organization. I'm a very disorganized person even I used to describe myself as organized. I guess either a lot has changed or I never realized how unorganized a person I am. 

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Catman2018

I have good photographic memory. 

Edited by Catman2018

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Nesf

I have a selective memory - if something interests me and I focus on learning it, I will remember without diffiulty. If I'm not interested, or motivated to remember, my brain discards it.

I don't remember a lot of my past experiences, I think because my mind has blocked them because they were unpleasant. I can't remember my first day at school at all, and most people can remember this. Instead, I have random memories which for some reason have stuck in my mind.

My short term memory isn't too good, partially as a result of the medication I have to take, and I find it hard to organise myself and to switch tasks.

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Sanctuary

I wouldn't say I have a great memory in general but certain things I can remember very specifically. In particular I can give precise dates for when various things happened. I can still recall dates and times of things such as driving tests (quite a few before I eventually passed!), job interviews and lesson observations when I was teaching. Many of these didn't go very well and that may be a reason for me (unfortunately) remembering them. i can also give dates for some more positive events but also some apparently mundane ones. I can still remember the times of day when I would have certain lessons at school as a student and later as a teacher. I can also remember a lot of football scores and their dates from decades ago.

I think the date focus of my memories relates to my long-standing fascination with days of the week, dates and calendar patterns. This could be a way in which an AS interest has framed memory. Others with AS may have no interest in dates but their own interests or preoccupations may have patterned the way their memory works. In some cases this can mean remembering with ease (no conscious learning or memorisation) details others would easily forget but it may make other things harder to remember. 

Often having a good memory is seen as being very positive. In many ways this is so but it depends on what is being remembered. The "ability" to remember a great deal about bad experiences is not very helpful. Sometimes the real gift is being able to forget the failures or frustrations in our lives, or at least to quickly learn from them and then move on. We need to be better at remembering successes skills and routes forward rather than looking back at things that have gone wrong. 

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Ben

It's a common error to categorise AS or Autism with traits and characteristics, because it's all SO individualistic. I know some people on the spectrum who are massively extroverted and  have larger than life personalities - one of these is actually a West End actor. Others are more introverted and/or shy (shy doesn't = introversion), and therefore don't crave the company of other people. Some (like me) teeter somewhere in the middle. 

Some have intelligence  WAY beyond what is considered the level for a genius (can't claim this one I'm afraid), whilst others have severe dyslexia, and barely make it through school. Some are meticulously well organised, and then there's tossers like me who have thought patterns like Chinese puzzles, and do things in a frenetic and discombobulated manner. 

Some on the spectrum have melt downs, some are docile and detach themselves from reality for a bit. And then, you can go ahead and cut as many facets, dig as many valleys and create as many anomalies as you want into everything I have just said, and make as many combinations as you like, because you'll never have the same list of traits twice. 

Basically, as more people get diagnosed and ASD is gaining more recognition, it's becoming very obvious that this is a complex and very hard to understand condition. I'm actually finding it hard to understand myself now - I'm starting to wonder exactly where I slot into all this, or if I have it at all. Or if any of us do. :huh: 

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