Autistic Style of Thinking and Sensory System Impacts

As a teen living in an institution I learned many things. One thing in particular I figured out was what to do when inside my body I felt a rage brewing. The following is a selection from the first book I wrote in which you will see the how my autistic processing and information retrieval lead to ultimate frustration which in turn led me to problem solve – also using my autistic sense making abilities as seen in the sensory based names of the roads leading out of town as they provided the solutions.

It is interesting to note that at the time a diagnosis of autism had not yet been given to me. Even so, I was using my literal, concrete, think in pictures style to serve me along with my innate need for sensory system regulation. Often we think of autistic sensory needs and think- ing style as problems to be solved only because they are different from the norm. I encourage you to think of the autistic sensory needs and thinking style as a place to look for autistic sense making when interfacing with a world not made for us.

Getting Out of Town

     When the info she needs is somewhere inside her
     and she just can’t find it right then when she needs it

     she calls it Ultimate Inside Frustration.

     When she was a girl she coped by showing an array of behaviors
     that world-people outside her labeled “inappropriate.”

     She learned over time that silence was more acceptable
     to the people in the world outside her

     so she tried it.

     And this is what she did:

     She made a map with a city in the middle named
     Ultimate Inside Frustration
     and then drew a road to take to get herself out of this town.

     After that whenever she found that she was in town
     she knew exactly what to do.

     Instead of staying in town she would turn and run down
     a road with the signs pointing “OUT.”

     Here are the names of the roads on the map leading out
     of the town of Ultimate Inside Frustration:

Silent Road – where she can disengage from the outside world

Kaleidoscope Court
– where she can find comfortable looking
matching colors to see

Grey Square Lookout – where she can see the repeating pattern
of the same speckled grey squares on the floors

Hummingbird Lane – where she can silently hum the same few bars
of the very same tune over and over and over again

Lake View Drive – where she can watch or listen to moving water
in the lake, the shower, the sink or the toilet

Textile Turn – where she can stroke something very smooth and soft
or something with a repetitive pattern of texture (Endow, 2006)

Selection adapted from Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology

Note: The author is autistic, intentionally uses identity-first language (rather than person-first language), and invites the reader, if interested, to do further research on the preference of most autistic adults to refer to themselves using identity-first language.


Endow, J. (2019).  Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology.  Lancaster, PA: Judy Endow.

Endow, J. (2012).  Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic AdultShawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2006).  Making Lemonade: Hints for Autism’s Helpers. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2013).  Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2009).  Paper Words: Discovering and Living With My Autism. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2009).  Outsmarting Explosive Behavior: A Visual System of Support and Intervention for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2010).  Practical Solutions for Stabilizing Students With Classic Autism to Be Ready to Learn: Getting to Go. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Myles, B. S., Endow, J., & Mayfield, M. (2013).  The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job: Navigating the Social Landscape of Employment. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.