Tuesday, 25 March 2014

There was "one of those pictures"

on Facebook yesterday - no, it was not even mildly pornographic - one of those "can you see the "X" in this?" sort of pictures. I saw it instantly. (It was, supposedly, a horse.)
I am still puzzling over this. I normally have great difficulty in seeing anything like this - even when it is kindly pointed out to me. The Whirlwind will look at me in a puzzled sort of way and say something like, "You are supposed to be smart."
I'm not.
I never learned to drive because I genuinely do have some visual perceptual issues which would make it dangerous. Even riding my tricycle has challenges if there is a lot of traffic around. I need time to make judgements about speed and distance.  Of course I have managed to learn a lot over the years but, looking back, I wonder how I managed to get to and from school without getting hit by a car. Of course there was much less traffic around then. I must however have used up a few of my nine cat lives.
Somehow I managed to learn to read with no apparent difficulties at all. It was one of those things that just happened. I don't think my parents were aware of the fact I could read at first. They though I just liked looking at the pictures. I was not supposed to be a clever child. If anything my mother thought (and told me) the opposite.
It would have been a different story if I had been presented with some of those books where you are supposed to be able to see things which, to me, are not there. Illusions often puzzle me - although I will usually get there in the end. I still have not managed to see anything in those books of  patterns which were popular about twenty years ago. My nephews liked those.
"You can train yourself," people told me. No, I don't think so. There's no point. I have better things to do with my time. It's not important to me. I could read years before I managed to write anything in a legible fashion.
I wrote my doctoral thesis on an area of visual perception. It had absolutely nothing to do with my own issues - although I suspect many people thought it had. I was much more concerned with finding ways of helping profoundly disabled children communicate. 
The question was could they see the differences they needed to see in order to use the symbols they were being given in order to "speak"? Previous research suggested that they would not be able to do this. Because most of the children could not even hold a pencil I had to find another way of conducting the initial testing my supervisor required. In doing so I found some unexpected results. Yes, the children had problems - but they were not the problems they were supposed to have. Almost all of them could see what they were supposed to see. Their problems lay in the way they were being tested.
I think that might be the answer to my own puzzle as well. I first caught that picture "out of the corner of my eye". I did not read the caption. I just saw "horse". If I had seen the caption or if someone had told me I was supposed to see a horse I might not have had the same reaction. As it was it was just there and I  "saw" what someone was asking people to see.
Now, what does that say?


Judy Edmonds said...

I have those exact problems too! I don't drive - I did learn but I found it too difficult to judge distances and speed to be safe(apparently I took corners like a maniac, when I thought I was merely 'not hesitating', as my instructor had said!) And I can rarely do those illusion things unless I see them out of the corner of my eye. As I;m sure you know, visual perception is different from different parts of the eye, and we must share a common 'peculiarity' in that way. Are you astigmatic? I am.

catdownunder said...

It's certainly a mess Judy - and only likely to get worse. No system is perfect but this one has some very particular problems!