I’m finally getting some ideas about the difference in thinking processes between autistics and non-autistics.
Some 20 years ago I read somewhere that people who are autistic can’t think in symbols. I didn’t know that I was autistic myself and I didn’t understand what they meant. Don’t autistics understand symbols like the dollar ($) sign and the Euro (€) sign?
When I found out that I’m autistic, last year, I understood even less.
The book about drawing with the right side of your brain was very surprising for me.
I hadn’t expected that there would be such a big difference in the experiences I had and the experiences that were described in the book. I didn’t quite get why the faces/vases drawing would be so hard for non-autistics. But what really surprised me was how hard it apparently is to draw portraits.
I just draw what I see. I might get lost in the details. Maybe I don’t think it’s a very good portrait because the details don’t match, but I don’t make the stupid mistakes most people apparently make.
Last week my employer wanted so speak to my councelor to learn something about autism.
We met in a cramp office with an cheap, old, dented and cracked table which we filled with the arms and hands of four people, 4 plastic coffee cups each with one plastic spoon, one dairy, two notepads and a few odds and ends.
My councelor told my manager and a manager from human resources a little about autism. Hopefully they learned something from it. One of the things my councelor described is how autistics see a lot more detail. He started out by saying “we see a table with a few sheets of paper” and continued with a description of what I saw.
“A table with a few sheets of paper”?????
Is that all that you see?????
Thursday my department at work had to wait a while to get the next order. The supply room kept telling us that we would get the order in a few minutes. So we waited and waited. In the end it took a few hours.
While we waited one of our interns drew a little. This guy is 16 or 17 years old and mentally disabled but he draws very good.
He started out with a cartoon styled St. Sebastian using very strong bold lines.
Then he tried to draw a portrait of me. Before he even started, he told me that he couldn’t draw very well and proceeded with waverly lines to draw something that didn’t even look like a face (or at least in my eyes). But he thought it was quite good.
Then I left to do something else. When I return an hour later he had filled a few sheets of paper with strong confident drawings.
I finally got it.
I think I misunderstood what was meant by symbols. Not only the signs that people use to point out the road to the city or the way to the toilet but the whole condensing of ideas people use to make it easier to observe and think about the world.
I don’t see the condensed world. I see every little detail.
I’m at odds whether condensing the world is an advantage or a disadvantage. But it doesn’t really matter since you can’t choose your thinking process.
The interesting thing is that the same happens when non-autistics look at a drawing. They don’t see all the detail I see. They just see a symbol.
If it has a trunk, branches and roughly the right colors it must be a tree. The shape doesn’t matter that much.
I think that this was what had me frightened.
There is no way I can draw all the detail I see. Not only because I don’t have the skills but, more importantly, I don’t have the patience. But if most people can’t see the details I don’t have to draw them.
This may seem like a children’s drawing but for me it’s something I’ve never done. I’ve never realized that you can just take a few circles to symbolize eyes and mouth.
These trees represent something I’ve been trying ever since I started with drawing.
On route to my work I come passed a lot of trees like these two. Especially now in fall a lot of leafs has fallen off. So on the one hand you see very nice green, yellow and orange colored leafs and on the other you look right through the tree and see a blue and yellow sky in the background.