Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Aspergers/Anime Connection

Allie, the eldest who's an Auspie, had oral surgery recently, so I went in search of cheap manga comic books. She loves anime and manga, but me not-so-much. I'm not only a fan of reading, but manga and anime present parenting problems. For example, in Japan animation and comics aren't just for kids but in fact has an adults only genre called hentai, which is porn. Even the graded or rated stuff isn't a certainty for I've found in books rated 13+ lots of nude topless women, in showers etc., with very adult themes, such as men spying on them. So you really have to screen books and videos to make sure they are appropriate.

In the recent issue of Wired, there were several featured articles on manga, and while I was disappointed to not see any notices or warnings on the issue of hentai, there were some very interesting things. For example, How Manga Conquered the U.S., a Graphic Guide to Japan's Coolest Export is not only very cool but it gives newbies (manga virgins) an idea of what it's all about.

However, of most note to parents of special needs kids was this bit from This Is Your Brain On Manga:
and played But as a Westerner without deep experience with manga, I displayed the hallmarks of what we might call a "prose mind." My eyes herked and jerked across each page, stopping to linger over any text I encountered — almost as if I were scouting for words rather than absorbing pictures. a Then he asked one of his research assistants, 29-year-old NakamichiKeito, to step up. Keito was asked to read a passage from Yanki-kunMegane-chan, a series he doesn't usually follow. When NakazawaKeito's video, it was a revelation. His eyes slalomed smoothly from page edge to page edge, rarely stopping at the text. In fact, there were portions of pages that his eyes never touched — because, as Nakazawa explained, Keito was either processing the words through his peripheral vision or simply imputing what was there. Like a seasoned skier, he moved with great speed yet remained acutely aware of his surroundings.

Keito has a "manga mind," capable of understanding context, supplying missing information, and interpreting word and image as one.
As a parent of an Auspie, I'm now thinking about manga differently.

While I originally barely tolerated anime, I did learn to twist that obsession of hers into the manga books -- hey, it was some form of reading. (And it did reignite her passion for reading after a several year hiatus.) But now I wonder if this "manga mind" thing, where a person views and interprets differently, is some key to further understanding how my daughter receives information.

Perhaps it will lead to more insight. Perhaps not.

But it does mean I will be moving more quickly on screening the piles of manga books and anime videos I have laying about the house.


Frank Santoro said...

Hi, I'm the person who wrote the blog on comics that you quoted. I'm glad you liked it. I honestly don't know the first thing about the reading habits of children with special needs, but I will say that reading comics when I was young was definitely helpful to me for HOW it made me see the world, and how I constructed images of plain text. Meaning --I can remember being frustrated in Grammar school Reading classes because simple short (text) stories didn't provide enough information. I couldn't imagine what was being described as easily. With comics, one is given visual cues --even if it is a simple "establishing shot" of , say, a castle, I could then imagine the castle better. But because I read comics I COULD imagine the castle even without any "establishing shot" or at least thought I could "see" it better because I had this sort of need to be able to "see" it clearly. I've always thought that reading comics as a child did wonders for my ability to sort and re-imagine information in my brain. And as someone who reads alot of books (not comics) I feel that everyday I still exercise this unique perspective because of HOW comics shaped my reading habits. Good luck with everything. All the best --Frank

Deanna Dahlsad said...

Thanks so much for stopping by! I appreciate you adding your thoughts to my musings... Esp since I'm not sure they mean much of anything ;) I did leave you a comment too...