Perceptive Observational Analysis: The Autistic Way of Navigating & Connecting Knowledge4 min read

One thing I have learnt is that despite what many people think, there are no subjects or fields of knowledge that are completely separated from one another.  They are all knitted together in a massive interweaving web of connections that those who have the capability can navigate these network of connections.

This capability to navigate knowledge with efficiency is something that I call POA (Perceptive Observational Analysis).  All humans can connect information together; it’s how we create and use the knowledge we learn.

POA, however, is a different type of processing altogether.  It is not very common in neurotypicals, but those who have it become highly inventive thinkers, great intellectuals, artists, composers, or philosophers.

However, autistic minds are different from non-autistic minds, and because of this, all autistic people at least a little touch of the POA capability.  This is why autistic people are often better at perceiving and picking up on things than most people overlook.  It’s widely known that autistics are great at pattern recognition, but there’s not a lot of exploration about what that means.

This is the general capacity of POA; however, I’ve since assessed and defined two subtypes of POA, Focused (F-POA) and General Eclectic POA (GE-POA).  Of the many wonderful things that the autistic mind can do, these capabilities are possibly the slowest to develop because there is much you have to learn before they become active.

After all, they have to learn knowledge and information before they have knowledge and information to connect.  But as they build that knowledge base, everyone prepared to be stunned by what they can figure out.

I am not a professional behavioral scientist, and POA is just a theoretical framework based on my own experience and understanding.  I am writing about it to see if anyone else can relate.

Focused POA (F-POA)

F-POA is the more common of the sub-types of POA.  Those autistic people who have it will usually specialise in only a few fields of knowledge.  Within those fields, they will very quickly come to master them because they can make incredibly fast and difficult connections within their fields of knowledge with ease that most ordinary people would struggle with.

To help you understand how incredible this is, a couple of historical Focused POA masters are Mozart and Albert Einstein.  Mozart’s speciality was sound dynamics in connecting tone, harmonics, resonance, and calculating the connections necessary to create some of the most wonderful musical compositions in history.

As for Albert Einstein, his knowledge in quantum physics and quantum mechanics let him to develop some of the most advanced theories in science.  He also came up with one of my favourite quotes: “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, only I’m not certain about the universe.” And, isn’t it nice that politicians all over the world make such a determined effort to prove Einstein correct?

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General Eclectic POA (GE-POA)

GE-POA is the less common of the two, and takes the longest to develop because it takes a long time to amass the large amount of generalised knowledge and information– depending on each person’s own learning speed.  This is my processing style.

Those autistic people who have GE-POA will become masters of navigating the connections between all the generalised knowledge fields, but unlike focused POA, it doesn’t happen fast because it takes time and patience to navigate and intake the vast amount of information that we gather in our lives.

But once we have made the connections we figure out all sorts of wonderful & amazing ideas, concepts, and epiphanies about all sorts of subjects in the world– things that most ordinary people wouldn’t be able to see for themselves.

I’ve always liked to believed that if all the people of the world could see the interconnectedness of everything in the world the way we with GE-POA do, then the world could be a much better and nicer place.

The Potential Price of GE-POA

There’s an old saying that, “More often than not, power has a price,” and this can be true about GE-POA.  It’s something that I realised a little while ago.

You see, different parts of the brain help people navigate the world around them.  But those of us who have GE-POA can, over time, lose the capability to do so, because those parts of the brain are gradually commandeered by our POA.  The amount of information in the world one intakes begins to becomes too overwhelming to process all at once.

See, you can navigate in the real world or you can navigate the network of knowledge, but may not be able to do both.  If it happens, it won’t happen fast.  It takes time, the more active the GE-POA capability becomes the less and less you are able to find your way around.

I think it depends on when the GE-POA becomes active or hits a certain threshold, the older you get, the more knowledge you amass; the more knowledge you amass, the more complicated it becomes to navigate through it.

But then again, it might be that it depends on the individual if it affects them this way; after all, all I have to go by is my own personal experiences with what has happened to me.

When I was young, I had no problem finding my way around, but when I got to my mid-30’s, I slowly started getting lost and confused, especially in new or unfamiliar places.  Nowadays, my navigating skills are somewhere between zero & none.

This can be the price of GE-POA.  For me personally, I don’t mind because of the amazing way it allows my mind to work.  Besides losing my navigating skills in the real world is something I can accommodate for myself.

I’ve got the maps and navigation app on my smartphone for that, which is just another wonderful invention in the world that brings greater independence and freedom for all autistic people.

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10 Comments

  1. I enjoyed your article!  I work in IT and I write code for the software at a manufacturing company.  I’ve been there 25 years now.  My boss used to get annoyed with me always asking so many questions about how other people’s jobs contributed to the whole.  I could not do my job until I completely understood how each different facet of our department intertwined to create the whole.  Years later he came to appreciate this about me and started to mention it in my reviews.  I became very valuable to him once he realized how having that knowledge made me a great asset to have. 

    In writing code, I love debugging and finding patterns and watching all of the code come to life to create the finished calculations, displays, and figures. 

    I also watch politicians and listen to voters speak.  It’s incredibly frustrating to see so many rely on opinions and feelings rather than facts.  I feel like I’m watching masses of people be duped and I can’t do a thing about it. 

    My mind is always thinking and processing.  Since having kids I’m a real homebody.  I find myself immersed in research and going down rabbit holes.  I regularly walk into rooms without knowing why I’m there, walk into walls, forget things…and the sense of direction is a sense I never had.  I rarely hyper focus on one thing.  I’m a constant gatherer of knowledge.  I wish I had the focus to hone in on one thing.  Maybe I wouldn’t be so absent minded. 

    My boss once called me a “jack of all trades, master of none”.  I was initially offended by this.  After mulling it over for years, I realize that is a fairly accurate assessment.

    1. Author

      I see just like me you understand some of the difficulties that comes with GE-POA.  I’m the same way, I never understand where my mind is going until it get there.  Sometimes it will link from one field of knowledge to a totally different one yet the information in both fields do truly connect together.  Sometimes I find myself thinking about something that I wonder what started me thinking this, then I have to back track to what I was originally thinking about that led me to where my mind ended up.  lol😄

      1. Now that I’m in my early 50’s I definitely recognize that rabbit hole!  I remember having fabulous focus as a kid/young adult as well.  Now that I have a lot more information under my belt, I do see more and more patterns all the time.  I think it makes life much more interesting.

  2. Jungian Function Typing and the work of Dario Nardi in FMRI (if my memory serves) maybe of interest to you.  Not myers briggs but Jungian Function.

    1. Nardi who did Neuroscience of Personality, Steve?

      Jungian cognitive function – big difference between Myers-Briggs and the actual thing.

      It is the difference between a rivulet and the sea

      1. yep that Nardi.  Your article has some good ideas, one of the things I have always struggled with was my ability to see complexity and have other people not be able to do so.  Always put it down to my IQ until my diagnosis at 53.

    2. Author

      Steve when I first did a post about POA on my autistic Facebook group some one commented that they didn’t realise that NT’s don’t think and prossess information the way we do.  When they finally did realise it they were confused and wondered how NT’s managed to get by in life without being able to think the way we do🤗

      1. lol, you have just explained my life’s interactions with most people.  The genetic aspects are interesting, my brother is very much an NT in thinking style.

    3. Author

      realise

      1. Author

        Not sure what happened there.  I must have made a mistake with something 🤔

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