Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fruit Flies

I can't for the life of me do visual detail-work. This is probably due to an unfortunate combination of 1) severe astigmatism, 2) a neurologically-based visual disorder that often accompanies Asperger's and is called Prosopagnosia because we're just doomed to get stuck with multi-syllabic diagnoses no one can pronounce or remember, and 3) the Asperger hand tremor that makes us accidentally scatter the detail-work all over the table-top because the universe apparently thinks we need yet another frustration here.

One particular day, the detail-work I kept scattering was unconscious fruit flies. We were supposed to be looking at them under a little cardboard scope to choose one male and one female for our high school genetics study.

I took so long scattering and retrieving and failing to see any difference between one fruit fly and another, they started coming around from the anesthesia and moving about, ignoring my pleas that would they for the love of an A hold still, so I gave it up, picked two at random, begged them most earnestly to be male and female, and put them into my jar. Then I pondered my history with random luck, and decided I'd better increase the odds. So I added a third fruit fly and wished them a good and productive weekend.

To my great relief, on Monday I had a good-sized herd of fruit flies. Then I spent the rest of the class period trying to figure out which were the mommy and daddy and other, and which were their wee ones, and if I couldn't see any difference in their size, I sure couldn't make out the specific characteristics of their wings or noses or whatever it was we were supposed to be tracking. Then the entire lot of them woke up and flew away, so I hid my empty jar from Miss Blaylock and spent the next two class periods making elaborate charts about the generations of my fruit fly family without their input.

In the meantime, they made their way to the school cafeteria, where they started raising their children and grandchildren with enthusiasm, and if their progeny live on, they have my blessings.

The visual disorder, Prosopagnosia, is most commonly discussed as a facial-recognition disorder, even though people who have it often have difficulty recognizing far more than just faces. Click here for more information about Prosopagnosia being more than just faces, and note in particular the last two sentences of the paragraph beginning with the words, "And at 77, Sacks writes . . . ."

Here's another link to Prosopagnosia beyond faces: see the second paragraph.

1 comment:

  1. I'm still bewildered that someone can tell the gender difference between something as small as a fruit fly!


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