The network working and autism

Posted by Gina Rosenthal in CCK08 | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

This post is going to be rather free form because I feel like I have so much in my brain that I need to get out.

One of the common explanations for the difference of connectivism and constructivism is that constructivism happens in your head, and connectivism happens out in “the network”.

My question was what about people with autism? You have autistic savants that don’t interact with the network, but they are absolute experts in their special interest.

Well someone has been studying that. Allan Snyder has figured out a way to turn off the left temporal lobe to induce a savant-like state. Basically the idea is that if the left temporal lobe is shut off, sensory data from the outside world (dare I say the network?) has direct access to your brain. It gets right to the brain’s processor, going around all of the filters that left temporal lobe has for us.

So, maybe info flows through the networks (just like computer networks), but the data is processed through filters in your left temporal node to be processed by your brain into information that is relevant to *you*. The filters are what create the relevant. Autistic people are able to absorb more of the data in raw form because their filters are inhibited for some reason.

It is obvious info flows through the network: someone that follows me on Twitter because of CCK08 saw me tweeting about autism (my daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome). Her daughter was just diagnosed as being on the spectrum, and she asked me for links so she could get some more information for herself. I threw together a quick blog post of resources. I’m pretty tapped into a very helpful network that helps me help my daughter, and now my CCK08 classmate is able to join that network too.

In networking terms, my classmate learned my routing table.

Maybe I will try to draw a picture of this from a (computer) networking point of view. Tomorrow.

7 Responses to The network working and autism

  1. Maru says:

    Hi Gina!
    Interesting articule. I saw the tweets and noticed the connection you made, it is wonderful that now you two are linked to the same support system.
    As the readings point out, you did not “transfer” knwledge, you shared a connection and she will use that information to fulfill her needs.
    Great job! Congrats!

  2. gminks says:

    I transferred knowledge of the connection, which is almost as important as the information that can be accessed by the connection.

    Dodd Hall, the building that was FSU’s first library, has this quote over the doors:
    “The half of knowledge, is knowing where to find knowledge.”

  3. BlancheMaynard says:

    And I’m the one who connected with Gina’s network. The course is already a success for me. I’m never going to delete my Twitter account again 😉

    Merci Gina

  4. Ed Webb says:

    And here I come, a lurker in the CCK08 community, attention grabbed by the autism/networking connection (I also have a child who may or may not be on the spectrum, so have done rather a lot of reading and thinking about what autism is and is not). Likely outcomes of this getting through my filters? 1. I follow this blog. 2. I get more active in the CCK08 network. Ain’t connectivity marvelous?

  5. gminks says:

    Ed, you may want to check out my other blog if you are looking for autism resource. That is where I post about Asperger’s Syndrome (my daughter’s dx) and the spectrum in general.

    I am so excited about real connections over an issue that is so important to me! 🙂

  6. Howard Errey says:

    Thanks Gina for this fascinating idea and link (for someone with a challenged left frontal lobe!).

    Interested in how someone in Aspergers might learn to form and utilize online networks (quite a challenge for many) and how that might translate or be a model for them forming f2f networks.

  7. Keith Lyons says:


    I saw the alert about this post a few days ago. I apologise that I have only just got around to responding. Radio National here in Australia has regular discussions around autism and Aspergers in a number of it programs. My wife and I have been involved in working with a range of learners and we believe that it is our work with Aspergers that has helped us to clarify our passion for teaching and learning. A recent Radio National program about the establishment of a self-help group (in Ireland?) gave us even more stimulus to consider the issues you raise.



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