How I See: Memory Maps

I find memory mapping critical for me to see.    In a particular context for instance my house.    I memorize and map the environment.   I can draw you a detailed floor plan showing you where all the light switches and outlets are, the doors, the location of the furniture, the windows, whatever.    This is a multi sensory map.   Not just visual but how it smells how it sounds how it tastes how it feels and yes how it looks.

To be clear I do this everywhere I go.   Without my visual triad context memory maps and closure I am basically totally blind.    These three things allow me to function very highly.

The memory maps have a shelf life.   Depending on the type of relationship I have with an individual determines in how many contexts I will be able to see them in.   This unfortunately is not a fool proof model.   As there are contexts where I would walk past my own children or my own parents because it wouldn’t make sense that they are there.     If I see you every day then I will be able to recognize you at a distance in varied light conditions in the context I expect you.   If I don’t see you that often you will need to get much closer say three to five feet for me to see you if I see you at all.   The memory maps also act as filters since they include assumptions.   Things that I expect in context will be mapped things I don’t expect won’t be.

Unfortunately our minds seem to be limited as I have never mastered having all memory maps loaded at one time.    When I am focused on something visually I can’t hear or sense my environment around me.  Someone can sneak up on me and I’ll jump through the roof.    It takes a lot of effort to be visual or focus only on the visual.

Memory mapping is very cool. The way it works for me is building context.  Then filling in the context with the map.   Context’s are like a parameter a fence around a certain experience.    Then I fill in the details..    The details of the map are constructed in layers based on how many times I experience the context.    The more I enter a context the richer the map.     It’s really contexts that can be applied to a new situation.   If I don’t have one I am functionally very blind.     When I reenter a context I don’t have to see the old stuff.   The memory of the old stuff is augmented with the new stuff or the delta of what I seen last time and what I see this time.    Conversely if I don’t enter a context for a long time the map starts to lose its detail.  Just don’t move the stuff. Assumptions in mind maps trip you up occasionally, literally.

So if you see me don’t assume that I see you but feel totally enabled to come up to me hold out your hand smile and say hello.   I’d be very glad to you see you again.

About the Author:

Kyle has ocular albinism and has been legally blind since birth. Kyle leads a very active live and is besides his professional career involved in many projects for persons who are different.

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