Autism & logical thinking
Written on 2nd May 2018 by Alex Lowery
One thing that we can often find in autistic people is they tend to have a very literal take on the world. A lot more literal than most neurotypicals would. Because of this; they’re often very logical thinkers and may (in some cases) think more logically than your average neurotypical person. However, this does depend both on the person with autism and on how you look at it. Today I will be trying to give an insight into my own perspective (speaking from my experiences).
I do find that in a lot of cases… I am more of a logical thinker than an emotional thinker. Overall: I see this as positive aspect of autism that I wouldn’t want to change. However, some may argue that there are disadvantages to it as well as advantages. But first I’ll talk about the disadvantages. I am less likely to allow my emotions to cloud my judgement (unless the emotion is fear and a few other exceptions). When someone says something to me (which others may perceive as hurtful) I likely won’t think much of it because I’ll say they’re entitled to their opinion. Apparently, some people get offended by being called weird but I can’t imagine why. Does that mean they think there’s something wrong with being weird? Weird just means unique. If someone told me I was weird, I’d agree with him or her since it’s the truth; I am weird and there is literally no point in denying what is obviously true. Normal is a setting on a tumble dryer after all and is really nothing to strive for, so there’s no reason to be insulted by being called weird. I also find that most of the time; I don’t even get offended when I receive hate comments online. At the end of the day: if you’re going to publish an article or a YouTube video or anything on the Internet: you have to be prepared for the possibility that there will be some haters. That’s just what happens…
In 2012 (at the age of 18) I did a video where I was being interviewed about autism and I’ve lost track of the amount of people who have commented saying, “You’re too normal to possibly be autistic”. These comments are a little annoying, but all they show to me is that many people still clearly don’t understand autism. I don’t find I get especially insulted like a lot of people might. In 2015 I did an article on 5 things I wanted parents of autistic kids to know. There were few to no hate comments on this article. However, there were fair amounts of people who disagreed with the article and gave some quite firm criticism. These comments didn’t offend me. In fact: they actually made me think more about how I worded some of the points. As a result of this, I wrote a follow up article where I tried to take what the comments were saying into consideration and actually explain the points I made better. Now, some people do use the phrase “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything”. And I agree with this to point, but not to the same extent as others. Obviously, when people are going to say things that are just plain rude and hurtful: that of course in uncalled for! However, I don’t see a problem with simply expressing a different opinion. I don’t see a problem with pointing out that you disagree with an article or giving constructive criticism. If all I ever got was praise, how would I know how to improve or see how I may have given parents the wrong impression in that article? I am actually thankful that the people who thought I was wrong commented and explained how why they thought this, so I could see it from their point of view, and respond to these comments by letting them know they may not have fully understood all that I had wrote.
So as you might be able to see: there are a number of advantages to this ‘less emotion thinking’. However, it’s definitely not without its disadvantages either. Sometimes the fact I’m not such an emotional thinker can make me appear insensitive, un-empathic and cold from the point of view of others. A lot of the time: I will say what’s on my mind and will have no idea that another person may find it hurtful because I wouldn’t find it hurtful if it was said to me. It’s not that I don’t care how another person feels. It’s more that I simply don’t see things past my own perspective. I also find that if people ask me a question: I’ll want to give a completely honest answer. I don’t really get why you’d ask in the first if you’re going to get offended by the truth, but apparently some people don’t see it this way for some reason that I can’t get my head around. I also find that I rarely cry when someone has died because I don’t find I get emotionally attached quite as easily as other human beings. Some people may think this is too cold and harsh of me, but it’s simply the way I am. I also have no idea how to deal with other people who are crying or getting very emotional.
Now, so far I may have given the impression that I’m basically like a robot that never lets his emotions get the better of him. This is actually extremely false. For one thing: I seem to get very emotional and even stressed when something doesn’t make logical sense to me. I like many things to make sense and have logical purpose and when they don’t: this can cause a lot of stress for me. I do find that I have this thirst for knowledge and understanding. When I can’t see a logical explanation: these negative thoughts really start to dominate me. When there’s something I want explained to me: I then become ever so worked up when it’s not then explained. I like things to be split into small logical steps for me to understand. I feel like this is one of the causes for my anxiety. I like everything (or most things) to be black and white. To have a set order but the world doesn’t always work that way nor do people’s emotions.
I am also finding that I’m not logical in some cases. Once I get hit with anxiety: any common sense I have is thrown out of the window (figuratively speaking) and all I have are fears that are dominating me. I’m also not very logical when it comes to executive function, which is the ability to plan and think ahead. A lot of the time, I tend to live in the moment and will jump right into a situation without logically thinking it through. When it comes to (for example) putting bowls into the dishwasher or putting suitcases in a car: I won’t necessarily know where the most logical place to put them would be so I’d just put them wherever I could. The same would apply to thinking outside the box in general.
So in the end: how logically and emotionally I think tends to depend how you look at it. There are also both advantages and disadvantages to it. I’d say there are also advantages and disadvantages to how just about anybody on the planet would think. As usual: these are all my personal experiences and they may not be the same for every autistic person you meet because we’re all different.
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and learned from it.
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