While I do agree with the DSM-V’s move towards grouping together the different autism diagnoses, I still think that within that spectrum…
I think there are several ‘autisms’, but all of them overlap enough to indicate commonalities between people’s experiences.
It’s also important to recognise that for now, autism is a *phenomenological* diagnosis based on behaviour patterns. We don’t have the ability to scan a brain and say someone is autistic.
I think there are at least four different flavours of autistic experience. I don’t think they correspond to the old labels of ASD, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS, either.
Anyway, there seems to be a misconception that ALL autistic people have the same style: extreme concrete & linear thinking, or scattered cognition w/pre-conceptual thinking.
I’ve seen four general patterns, though there’s probably even more variation that I’m not seeing.
Others are linear and abstract, while others are non-linear and concrete and still others are non-linear and abstract. (I’m in the last group.)
These differences vary in intensity and can be influenced by life circumstances.
Concrete thinking focuses on tangible sensory experiences and relationships: people, things and events rather than ideas. Practice over theory. Often corresponds with MBTI ‘sensing’.
Which is understandable when your experience of the world is fundamentally tangibly relational.
People who are waaaay out on the abstract end of the spectrum may have a hard time putting their ideas into practice…
(Which is, incidentally, why abstract intellectual ability is NOT THE SAME THING as…
There’s a common stereotype that all autistic people are concrete thinkers, but that’s not true. I tend to think pretty abstractly. I’m abstracting right NOW.
If you miss a step, you’re likely to miss the point.
On the other hand, non-linear folks may struggle with highly sequential tasks with a lot of steps.
Our learning can look like loose associations, circles, mind maps, holograms, internal mood boards and other distributed models.
While they write from a perspective that feels non-linear/concrete, it also applies to non-linear/abstract autistic people.
Non-linear concrete autistic people’s written expressions of their pre-conceptual thinking can LOOK abstract, but the origins are very different.
If you’re non-linear/abstract, you may get both impressions at the same time, as I do.
None is better than the others. All of them have their own patterns of strengths and weaknesses.
I’m non-linear, but I’m also very verbal. But there’s a bit of a catch: when I think in words, I see them.
I also have straightforward movie-like visuals and other sensations, like texture, colour, sound, spatial relationships, diagrams, etc. It’s kind of mixed-media thinking. :P
(Also, words in my head tend to be set in specific typefaces if they’re emphasised.)
Nowadays they seem to appear in a generic sans-serif.
I remember HATING particular fonts when I was like, four.