The Center for Proactive Medicine; Paige Adams, FNP, B-C's Facebook Wall 2013-11-23 11:17:15
Autism Discussion PageStrong “Associative” Memory Children with autism have strong factual, associative memory; being able to encode the exact sensory memory that was associated with an experience. These sensations, and the emotions attached to them, are memorized in association with the event. Consequently, any future events with similar sensory sensations may set off the same emotional reactions. Johnny is very sensitive to perfume. When his aunt, who was wearing a blue dress, hugged him tightly, the smell of her perfume made him nauseas and he panicked. Now, when he sees women wearing blue dresses, he automatically smells the same perfume (even though they may not be wearing any), panics and runs away. Strong emotions get attached to sensory experiences, to be relived over and over again. Here again, in more detail, is the link between sensory memory and emotions associated with the encoding of the raw sensory experience. These can be very vivid memories, with intense emotions attached to them. Hence, when the same raw sensations occur again, they can elicit the same strong emotion, which may not seem to fit the occasion. This can explain some of the emotional regulation problems in children with autism. Since NT people experiences are more filtered first by language, their emotional responses are often toned down by the language based mediation. Hence, when encoded into memory the emotion attached to it is not as strong. This allows NT people to more easily regulate their emotional responses. Parents, caregivers, and teachers need to be very aware that sensory stimulation can elicit very strong emotional reactions, with very vivid memories. At the same time, when children becomes sensory overwhelmed, they may become emotionally upset very quickly. When there is not language mediating the sensation, you have direct emotional reactions.