Thinking Differently about Thinking Differently

We rarely think at all about how people in our social circle or our family think differently from us. We make constant, small assumptions that our common experience gives us a common point of view on how things "should be". Unless, of course, there is conflict. How many times have we thought or said, "what were you thinking?!".

Some differences in thinking have become cliches in our culture. "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" by John Gray cemented what was already common knowledge. Our gender can create unique styles in how we function. And now, that concept of difference created by gender is a shared perception. Today, it's a surprise when we find that a member of the opposite sex thinks about things in the same way as us!

People on the autism spectrum experience the world in a way that is different from those who are not on the autism spectrum. Stated in the most straightforward and simplistic way, they think differently. For too long, this different way of thinking has been viewed only as a liability and the behaviors associated with this different way of thinking have been considered completely undesirable.

Perhaps its time to think differently about how people on the autism spectrum think differently. At Mind Shift, we believe that the unique qualities associated with autism spectrum disorder can be valuable if our culture will begin to see the differences as valuable. To make this change a reality, all of us will need to change how we think about the autism spectrum. There is no question that, like everyone, people with ASD have challenges that need to be considered in their daily interactions AND like any person operating in a culture that is filled with people who view the world differently, they need to remember that others may not share their perspective. At the same time, those of us not on the spectrum need to be open to the dramatically different world view that people on the autism spectrum may have. As we open our minds to the difference in how people on the autism spectrum think differently, we will become more aware of how all of the people in our world, both professional and personal, also think differently. And the question will no longer be, "what were they thinking?!", but "why didn't I think of that?!"