I am an autistic woman who thinks in a variety of ways – all of them being visual. One of those ways is with thought waves. Here is a description:
The “stuff” of my thinking
And color sounds
Is what I watch
What you are saying
Or in private
Is a generation of complex idea thinking
A moving, sounding, mesmerizing,
Is my thought wave
When people talk to me my brain responds by automatically creating and matching an internal thought wave to the words I hear. The thought wave is made of moving color pulsations that generate sounds. Even though spoken words are the medium most often used by people to communicate with me, I am wired to connect to these words through the sound and movement of colors.
Once the movement and pulsation of sound in the thought wave is stable enough I can translate it into words. This is the way I think. It moves quite fast, but even so, tends to be slower than the speed of conversation. Because speed is so valued by society we tend to give people no more than a few seconds to respond to our spoken words. (Endow, 2013).
Thus, my visual way of thinking, when I am in conversation with others often means my timing is off. This comes to light in a couple of different ways. By the time I have a response to something that was said, the conversation has moved on so the response seems awkward, as it doesn’t fit into the moved on conversation.
Another thing that happens when I am in a group conversation is I tend to talk over people. It is not intentional. What happens is my timing is off. Either I say nothing, as it is not apparent to me where to jump in and when it is apparent the words don’t fall out of my mouth in synch with my thoughts. By the time I start to say my words the space in the conversation has gone by and my words start during the time the next person has started talking. Some days this is more noticeable than other days. It is impacted by my state of sensory regulation (Endow, 2013).
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.
BOOKS BY JUDY ENDOW
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 Adult. Shawnee 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.