Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Suppose You Thought Like Me

I want you to imagine that you are a person for which the following traits are always true.

Suppose that you are brutally honest and truthful at all times. And that you think being truthful and honest at all times is helpful.

You call things as you see them. This likely stems from your strong tendency to take things literally, at face value. This means you tend to be nonjudgmental and unbiased. (Note: being nonjudgmental is not the same thing as either amorality or giving allowance to immorality, though we may certainly disagree about what is or is not immoral.) That and your honesty ensures you present things exactly as they are, as you understand them, and do not ignore inconvenient facts.

Suppose too that you are conscientious, committed to your work, punctual, reliable, and loyal. Always.

Suppose that when you express an opinion it's because you've done a great deal of research and you have thought through the patterns and complexities and the varies alternatives and, only after a long period of contemplation, come up with an understanding, a solution, or an insight.

Suppose you're persistent and focused. Suppose, too, that you're a highly creative thinker and are not at all prone to groupthink or following behaviors. Suppose you can rapidly recognize patterns and can engage in imagistic thinking.

Now suppose you think everyone thinks like you, perceives the world like you, behaves like you.

Or should.

What would you think of everyone else? What would everyone else think of your behaviors and the way you treat them?

If you can do that, if you can imagine these things--and imagine what it's like to experience someone like you (if you are neurotypical) when the world is experienced this way--you can understand why we with autism act as we do. And why you mistakenly think we lack things like empathy or theory of mind. 

We don't.

We just think you think (or ought to think) like us.

And you think we think (or ought to think) like you.

But we can't.

And you can't.

We're literally of different minds.

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