A black and white image of a brain with text that reads Autistic Visual Thinker - Different is GOOD! in the foregraond. In the bottom right is a semi-circle that reads " Visual thinker - Lyric Rivera - NeuroDivergent Rebel"

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Visual Thinking – My Autistic Experience

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One can experience the world, think, and process information in many ways.

Some people have only pictures and video in their minds (with or without sound), and others have NO visual inner mind, only an internal monologue with sounds and no pictures.I am primarily a visual, pattern thinker. I think and process visually.

Despite my hyperlexia (nurtured by an early obsession with reading, writing, text, and vocabulary), I don’t primarily think “in words” but in patterns, pictures, rhythms, and vivid 360 videos.

Rhythm and music are patterns that influence me daily, as many things come to me (and out of me) in song.

Some people process internally, and others process externally, running a monologue out loud, vocally, or through typing on a keyboard – or a combination of the two (as I often do.)

I type to work things out, to get things “off my chest” (and mind).

I type to set myself free from thoughts I struggle to put into words otherwise. I type because “getting it all out” is the only way to still the chaos in my mind.

A black and white image of a brain with text that reads Autistic Visual Thinker - Different is GOOD! in the foregraond. In the bottom right is a semi-circle that reads "Lyric Rivera - NeuroDivergent Rebel"
Autistic Visual Thinker – Different is GOOD!

For similar reasons, I talk to myself (with questions and answers) – out loud.

Working through things vocally, out loud, talking through, and narrating my actions as I do them helps me track and sort out what I need to do. Unfortunately, other people don’t always react well to my need to process externally.

There are people whose memories and thinking are primarily visual or auditory, and there are people whose memories are held in other senses.Some people can be triggered by such strong sense memories in other senses (touch, smell, taste, etc.) that when a memory trigger occurs, it is as if they’re transported back in time (as the memories come flooding back into them as if no time has passed).

How my mind works seems to confuse other people.

Growing up, misunderstandings about how I process information frequently got me in trouble.

For those who process differently than I do, looking at people when speaking or being spoken to is natural, but I find this disruptive and intrusive – derailing my thought process.

When people speak to me, I often have to look away from them to allow my mind to draw the pictures the sender’s words are painting. I also have to look away to pull up memories and information deep in the Rolodex of my mind.

a pink brain appears on a teal background with text in the foreground that reads - All Brains are GOOD Brains - Lyric Rivera NeuroDivergent Rebel
All Brains are GOOD Brains – Lyric Rivera NeuroDivergent Rebel

Some people have minds that are well organized, with timelines and easy ways to recall information on demand.

My Rolodex is not organized… there are no dates or timelines in it, just a collection of randomized memories that pop up depending on the search terms entered.

When people enter the “wrong search terms,” the wrong memories and thoughts are brought up. This can create problems if “search terms” are too general, causing too many memories or pieces of information to pop up.

The resulting information overload can bog me down, leaving me confused and frozen, unable to move forward.

There are people who have amazing short-term or working memory – I am not one of those people.

There are people who have long-term memory so clear they can close their eyes and revisit being an infant, pre-speech, with the clarity of a 360 VR video. It’s me. I’m People… This is me.

I don’t know if it’s the Autism, ADHD, or both… but my working memory is shit. Lucky for me, my long-term memory (for visual things and patterns) is MUCH better.

I can clearly remember being under a year and a half old (before I started speaking (and reading). I know because I started speaking and reading at 1.5 years old – which I also remember clearly.

Too bad I can’t recall a list of instructions that are given to me verbally without taking notes and making those instructions VISUAL.

Many (though not all) of the Autistic People I know are visual processors or visual thinkers.

I, myself, am a visual thinker.

DISCLAIMER: Not EVERY Autistic is a visual thinker, and NOT being a visual thinker doesn’t disqualify someone from being Autistic. This is a common Autistic experience, NOT a unified one.

When people speak to me, their words paint pictures in my mind.

Because I am a visual thinker, I don’t remember the exact words people say (unless I write them down). I remember the pictures people’s words paint in my head.

If people use the wrong words to describe things OR use too many words that do not paint pictures in my mind, it can cause confusion and miscommunications (because the pictures in my mind sometimes are completely different from what the speaker intended).

This is further complicated because I also have Audio Processing Disorder, causing me to FREQUENTLY mishear words (like the teacher in Charlie Brown) despite having EXCELLENT (above average hearing).

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