Every second of every day you take in information from all of your senses. These include how your clothes feel on your skin, the color of shoes you are wearing, the expression on the faces of people who walk by you, the sounds of cars driving on the road outside. Every day, you succeed in filing some of these sensations into “things you can ignore” and others into the category of “things you need to pay attention to”. People with Autism may fail to make these categories. They don’t know how to separate out what deserves their attention and what doesn’t.
In his book, “Send in the idiots,” Kamran Nazeer, himself diagnosed with Autism as a child, gives this description of how this failure can cause problems in his explanation of why one of his classmates might not have learned how to take a bus .
“It is easy to understand why autistic people are often mistaken for being retarded. Elizabeth might not have realized … that there was a correlation between people sticking out their hand and the bus pulling in. She might not have realized, not because she lacked deductive reasoning but because she might have noticed the green stain on the person’s sneakers instead or the misplaced apostrophe on the side of the bus. She might have noticed that the old woman standing besideher had trim fingernails except on her left thumb, but she might have missed her bus; what we consider to be the obvious hierarchy of sense data is not so obvious to everyone.”