Please know that the behavior of people with autism makes sense in the context of their experience of the world around them. Because typical people do not share our context they are not often able to assign correct meaning and motivation to some of our behavior. They do their best by assigning meaning to our behavior based on what the behavior would mean were they themselves engaged in it the behavior. Often they arrive at wrong conclusions. Sometimes they even assign negative character traits to us based on their wrong conclusions.
Many autistic people think visually. As a young child who thought visually I was often thought to be stubborn and insisting upon my own way when in reality I was merely trying to keep ahold of a thought. Today in my work I come in contact with many on the spectrum and see the same phenomenon at work. Let me explain with two examples:
I think in colors. My thinking colors have sound and movement. When I hear spoken words my neurology automatically goes for the match – a match for the words I hear to a familiar concrete picture of something in the world outside my skin or to an internal picture I have stored in my memory..
The neurology of a person with autism does not automatically organize the world outside their skin. When we are able to organize the happenings in the world we usually do so differently than neuro majority people.
As a young child I saw over and over how light from the sun interacted with water particles rising from the ground and with water droplets in the air. This repeated experience became useful over time in that I learned the predictability of this occurrence. I also learned the effects of various factors (such as clouds, rain, air temperature, wind, etc.) had on impacting the interaction of sun brightness with air and ground moisture.
Many autistic students, who have difficulty transitioning from one activity to another, benefit from using a visual schedule in the same interactive way for each transition. Visual schedules provide the means to implement the same transition routine each time the activity changes. Many teachers simply say, “Check your schedule” to signal when it is time for one activity to end and another to begin. Those words serve to initiate the transition routine which the student has learned to complete once initiated without further prompting.