-- A blog maintained by a pessimistic over-confident High-School kid.

Friday, June 5, 2020

My Thought Process - Autism - The quirks and pitfalls that comes with it

Time is not a friend of mine, and while writing this blog post might be the last thing I would do today, I would try to write down how I am different from others, and if that statement is even true. Watching a TED talk given by a speaker that is formally diagnosed with autism after college years, her short on-the-side mentioning about her conditions of autism stroke me in a very personal way. She talked about how her thoughts while are not as glorified as what popular belief of autism intelligence is like, is rather a unique language of hieroglyphics of thoughts in her head. She said that she is able to form words out of thoughts without trouble, but it is the combination of that along with other things that confuse her. Her line, "my neurodiversity makes it difficult for me to think, listen, speak and process new information all at the same time" sums it up very effectively and I resonate a lot with it. While I think my blog posts are quite good representations of my thoughts, I am not able to express myself accurately or just gather my thoughts when I am listening to someone. I am not saying that I have autism, but I am exploring the possibilities of it. In life, my method of thinking is what restricts and guides my thought process.

The flow of my thoughts are very dynamic, while I have no idea if it is special among other people, I am curious to see the inner-workings of it. I could never put this phenomenon of my thinking into words, but Hannah Gadsby, the TED talk speaker's, words ring true: "[My thoughts are more like] ever-evolving language of hieroglyphics that I've developed and can understand fluently and think deeply with. but I struggle to translate... and as for the written word, I'm OK at it but it's a torturous process of translation... Speech has always felt like an inadequate freeze-frame for the life inside of me". All those are true, but it is not a full description of my thoughts, it is a little bit off.

"[My thoughts are more like] ever-evolving language of hieroglyphics that I've developed and can understand fluently and think deeply with. but I struggle to translate"
Most of my conscious thoughts are through written languages, and the most common one in my brain is English. But under the surface of thoughts related to reasoning, my deepest thoughts are an ever-evolving language of indescribable items of feelings. These thoughts are blurry images of my mechanical inventions inside my brain, foggy diagrams of program structure that does not have a label to any parts, imaginative feelings of past or possible future situations. All these visual types of thoughts are not as clear as one would imagine, they are more like a low-resolution transparent hologram that you cannot touch or distinctively see. To put it vaguer, it's there but it's not there. It is so difficult to translate because I myself cannot see it either. It is a concept that exists in my head, but I myself do not grasp.

I am still out of artwork :(
it's fine tho

"and as for the written word, I'm OK at it but it's a torturous process of translation..."
As one can image, it is hard to articulate a concept you yourself do not understand. Yes, I can describe my thoughts as images, diagrams, and imaginative feelings, but each of those word version of my thoughts is written with minute-long pauses in between. It is a "tortuous process of translation" because it takes huge amounts of time to write each sentence. And in a conversation, I do not expect the listener to wait a minute in between my sentences. And even if one would wait that long, the awkwardness surely would interrupt my thought process.

"Speech has always felt like an inadequate freeze-frame for the life inside of me"
Whenever I talk, my brain goes into a numb stage, and it doesn't even take a formal speech to drive me into it. I do not think when I am talking. Time shifts right by like the pressing right on youtube. I do not speed up time but miss it entirely. After a dialogue of my speaking, I would sort of regain consciousness. As articulated by Hannah, it is "an inadequate freeze-frame for the life inside of me". I just freeze in my brain when I speak.

This special thinking of mine drives me to think about how I have been able to succeed, and have struggled in some areas at the same time. If I am allowed to compare myself to the classmates that struggled in computer science, I question if my foggy abstract thoughts have helped me piece together functions and if statements in my "visual" mind. While I myself disagree with that (backed with my own countless time-consuming struggles in computer science), it might have been beneficial for me to not have a clear direct line of thought. Through two years of coding, I have picked up countless examples of solutions to different types of problems in programming. If I need to access binary, initiate a WebSocket, define a data structure, I have all the experience pertaining to each of those. But the thought process is a subconscious act, and I cannot be sure if it had actually helped or is it other parts of my thinking.

Finishing up the benefits, the counter is that my foggy thoughts definitely hinder my progress in reasoning. In the example of SAT, if my thoughts are labelless objects of content, how would I myself know which summary is the best fit. If my summary of the text is nameless objects, how would I choose the best summary? In the default response, I would have to also translate each of those given summaries into nameless objects as well and compare them with the objects of the text. If it sounds confusing, that is exactly why it is difficult for me. Of course, I am not giving myself an excuse and blaming my low score on my brain. I have countless ways to improve, but it might be one of the reasons why I struggle. I understand that many other people struggle even more, or that others have gone through the hard work of struggling already. Maybe everyone has the same problem with me. But if my thought process is special, it illustrates the challenge. But at the end of the day, practice always makes improvements, and I am definitely not exempting myself from responsibility.

Do I have autism like Hannah? I'm not sure. If my thought process is more special than others, did it help me in the things that I am good at? I'm not sure either. If a conclusion has to be made in this post, I think it is that I have to embrace my method of thinking. Hannah found her solution as doing stand-up comedy. For me, it might be writing, coding, drawing, or some skill that I have yet discovered. One day, when I identify the right medium to translate and articulate my thoughts, I must get hold of it and exploit it to the best of my ability.

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