As an autistic my connections to other people are perceived visually. In fact, I often need to have a concrete visual available in order to be able to think about my friends. A challenge I am often faced with is the erroneous presumption and resulting behavior of neurotypical (NT) people when I need a visual in order to maintain a relationship. Individuals with other isms may also experience this erroneous presumption.
Being a Visual Thinker
For those of us who are visual thinkers it seems logical that visuals would play an important part in developing relationships with others and in maintaining those relationships over time. In fact, many of us need something we can actually see such as a picture of a person or a concrete object representing that person. We do not decide to need this, but rather it is the way our autistic neurology makes information available and connections possible for us.
My Experience Growing Up
As for myself, I need a visual in order to think about a person or to pull up a conversation I had with a person. When I was a child I would sneak something of mom’s to take with me to school such as a discarded Doublemint gum wrapper. If I didn’t have some sort of visual reminder of mom with me it caused me to feel as if she did not exist – like she had died. When this happened it was hard to concentrate and figure out what my teachers wanted me to do.