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Newest Blog from Judy Endow! Managing My “Inflexible Thinking”

Sep 21, 2012 -- 9:23 pm
Because of my autism I have an autistic thinking style. One characteristic often attributed to me is “inflexible thinking.”
Flexibility in thinking has to do with being able to adapt when circumstances change by adjusting or shifting from one expectation to another. This has never been easy for me, but I have learned how to live more comfortably with my autistic thinking style in a world where flexibility is much more highly valued than my inborn trait.
First Step to Flexible Thinking
First, I had to accept my own autism and the fact that I think differently (Endow, 2009). Self-acceptance doesn’t come easily for most autistics because we are brought up being molded into acting as a neurotypical (NT) acts (Endow, 2012). While some of this is necessary to enable us to live in the world, the flip side of it is that we come to understand that in the eyes of the world we are less than and have little value in our natural state.
Nobody sets out to teach us this, but it is what we learn. It took me many years to figure out that the truth is my brain has a different operating system than the brain of an NT. It isn’t good or bad – just different. While this doesn’t make me a bad or wrong human being, it does make life difficult in that I have to constantly accommodate the ways of the majority.
Second Step to Flexible Thinking
Next, I had to learn to fit in. In reality this meant that I had to come to terms with the fact that the world would not change and run according to what would make sense to me and make me comfortable. I had to accommodate. Not an easy thing to do!
Essentially, I had to learn how to outsmart my own neurology. I think visually. When circumstances change the information is typically delivered verbally. I have spent many years figuring out how to efficiently translate this verbal/language-based information into a visual format that allows me to keep up with the fast pace of the ever-changing social interface I meet every time I step outside my door.
Most often, because helpers do not have an autistic style of thinking they are unaware that the brains of most autistic children do not automatically translate language-based information (especially spoken words) into their primary visual language. Here is a strategy I have used both with myself and with many autistics of all ages. It helps us to outsmart the phenomenon that others call our inflexible thinking. to read the entire blog, please click:

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