Saturday, January 14, 2012

I'll Bee Thinking

In this post, I am going to try to describe how someone with autism might think.

Ever since I was young, I have had a fear of bee stings.  This is understandable, since I am allergic to bee stings. I have been stung five times in my life.  Although I couldn't tell you the exact time when these painful incidents took place, I can tell you my age: I was stung twice when I was three, two more times when I was eight, and once when I was 21.  I have never had any reason to doubt that bee stings were harmful to me.

A conversation earlier at work left me wondering.  I heard two workers talking about bee stings, and how one coworker had heard that bee stings were actually beneficial.  This coworker went on to say how bee stings could be used to help arthritis.  Regardless of whether this is true, I found myself following two thought patterns after I had walked out of earshot.   One of those thought patters reflected how that might be true for some people, but it was definitely not true for me, as has been repeatedly shown through allergic reactions to bee stings. 

Another thought pattern coincided with the first one.  You could say that I was thinking about two different things simultaneously.  This second thought pattern reflected how I might have received this information differently if I was younger.  I imagined how I might have reacted if I had actually believed the information and what I might have said or done to reflect any arguments I would have faced.

You might ask, oh this is interesting, but what is my point?  My point is that something I had believed to be true my entire life was challenged and I had the freedom to examine this information from simultaneous angles at the same time.  This mental process draws focus away from verbal communication.  Had I been forced to make conversation while in that mental process, I know I would have not been able to relate what I felt verbally.  It would have been forced through a strainer, all these thoughts and insights reduced to minimal, one word answers.  This leads into my point: the thoughts or feelings of those with autism are too complex to easily be translated into words.

Since I was thinking about several things at the same time and someone talked to me, asked me what was on my mind, how would I have answered?  Complex thoughts combined with substantial verbal communication skills (when compared to my writing skills) leads me to have extreme difficulty relating what I am thinking when I am in that state of mind.  It does not mean that I am unintelligent if I can't answer a "simple" question like, what is on your mind.  It means that there are other factors involved that people don't typically deal with.

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