#VisThnk – #Autism and Thinking Visually – Join the Conversation

Among the things I find most fascinating about the minds of those with Autism (in particular, I’m thinking of my experiences with my own son) is how thinking actually takes place.

Some people think in words, in complete sentences. Their thoughts are ordered and linear.

Well, ok, maybe they don’t. I don’t know. I only know how I think. And I do sometimes think in sentences – although I tend to leave out words in my mind and replace them with images, symbolic representations of what the word I want to use actually means.

When I’m writing fiction, sentences come easier. I can fill in the images with the correct words.

But when I’m doing science – when I’m examining a data plot and thinking about what it means – words are not what is in my head. I see images, relationships, connections between objects and concepts. It’s a network dwelling in my brain where ideas leap from here to there along obvious pathways.

Geez… this explains so much.

In my science mind, the results are an enormous network of concepts and data, connected by strings of similarity that I cannot verbalize. The relationships are complex and convoluted.

No wonder I can’t write technical papers. I can’t even think about them using words.

Now, if I could just draw a bunch of pictures, I’d be set.

This probably explains why the way I ‘read’ technical papers is by looking at all the pictures before deciding to tackle the associated text.

I imagine the way that I see science is very similar to how those with autism, like my son, think about the world all the time. But I don’t know. I can’t know, because I’m not in their heads and they’re not in mine. (Trust me, you don’t want to be in my head.)

Tonight (Thursday, March 20) there’s a Twitter chat in which we can all explore the visual thinking style of many on the Autism Spectrum.

Shaun of the Stim
Visual Thinking

Thursday, March 20, 2014
7pm – 9pm
Eastern Time

You can tune into the conversation using the hashtag #VisThnk, or by following this link (if you’re not familiar with Twitter). I hope to see you there.

Take a moment and think about it. How do you think? Do you think in pictures, words, or numbers? Colors and sounds? It’s astounding to realize that the way we think about the world as individuals is as different as what we look like.

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