The Positive Traits of Autism – Part 11 – Eye for Detail

One of the things autistic people say is a positive of autism, is an eye for detail.  Naturally, autistic people seem to notice, and experience more of what goes on around them than many other people do.  One example people often use to illustrate this is the way that people with autism can walk in to a room and notice the smallest details on the carpet, or in the background.  This can be difficult as it means that there is often so much detail around autistic people that they become overwhelmed by it, and struggle to focus on the more important issues.  But it can also be a very positive trait.

Having a good eye for detail can be helpful in a lot of different jobs.  Whether it is a more technical or creative job, being able to spot the smaller things that others may overlook is a very valuable skill.  Sometimes people with autism do say that they may miss the bigger picture because they are so busy focusing on details, but perhaps in a work environment where they may be allocated the specific job of looking in to the details, this wouldn’t be so much of a problem.  If they were working as part of a team then others could look in to certain elements of the job, leaving them to focus on the all-important details.  An eye for detail can lead to a methodical and precise way of working.  This cuts down on the risk of errors, and also means that the work tends to be safer, if safety is a concern.  Most jobs, big or small, do depend on the details.  If somebody is particularly adept at noticing these then this can be a real attribute.

It can also mean that people with autism can enjoy experiences more deeply than others.  Whether it be something such as watching a film or looking at a piece of art, or even going on holiday.  The smaller details that many often overlook can jump out to someone with autism.  Lots of people with autism say that this enables them to get extra levels of enjoyment from experiences.

Obviously it is being included here as a positive, but an eye for detail is something that autistic people sometimes wish they didn’t have.  It can often lead to sensory overload; colours are brighter, faint smells are detected more.  Instead of seeing one image, hundreds of small details will assault the eyes.  In fact, with almost all the positive traits in this series, there are times when they may change, and become negatives, but it is still worth remembering how important and enjoyable having a good eye detail can be.

An eye for detail is not perhaps one of the things that is stereo-typically associated with people with autism, or perhaps it is not one of the things that people tend to remember from the stereo-types.  People often talk about characters such as Sherlock Holmes being autistic.  Of course if the character wasn’t written as autistic this would be impossible, but one of the reasons they like to give, along with his lack of social skills, is his incredible eye for minute details.  It is silly to try to suggest that all autistic people have an eye for detail on this level, but a large number of people with autism are proud of their ability to take in the details of any given situation that are often overlooked by others.


  • Time and again, whether they know I have Aspergers or not people notice that I pick up small details that elude others. At work, to give one example, I will be asked to look over a draft of our catalogue cover because if anything is amiss I can be guaranteed to spot it. It is also one reason why my photographs are often appreciated – because I capture things that others might not even notice.

  • >