Think of all the ways in which you experience the world around you. Our perception of the world we live in governs the way we experience our day-to-day lives. Challenging ourselves to see beyond our own perceptions helps avoid misunderstandings and we gain a deeper understanding towards the people we care for. This requires us to understand that other people have thoughts, beliefs, emotions, intentions, desires, agendas that drive them. Therefore, it is pointless to have form an ideal definition of what is right and for what is wrong for everyone. We are just all very unique so you would be better off spending your time trying to connect with the people most different from you so you can share your views and celebrate such rich variety. Investigate with an open mind and read between the lines when someone opens up to you. This will assist you in responding sensitively and effectively. As we gain a deeper understanding on how our perception of the world can influence our well-being we begin to think a lot more before we act.
Developing your perception when you have autism is a different ball game altogether. Many people with Autism struggle to imagine the differences between the way they see the world and the way others do. This is sometimes referred to as having an impaired theory of mind.
This belief experiment will allow you to see a clear fundamental difference in the way a person with autism processes a thought about a situation from the way a person without a condition like autism would process the same thought about the same situation. Got it? Confusing huh? If not please keep going because all will become clear…
Imagine my sister Helen (the youngest but the most grown up), my brother Adrian (who has a wicked sense of humour for a guy on the autism spectrum) and myself (Mark, the hopelessly dyslexic, creative, older brother). We are all sat together around a table. In the centre of the table are two simple boxes, each with a lid on the top. One is yellow and the other red. Next to the one of the boxes is a key. I point out the boxes and the key to Helen & Adrian and I show them that I am putting the key into the red box. I then ask my sister to step out of the room for a bit until Adrian and I call her back in. Whilst Helen is out of the room I show Adrian that I am now moving the key from the red box to the yellow box and that we shouldn’t tell her anything when she comes back to the table. We call Helen back to join us at the table again. I then ask Adrian to show me which box Helen would open if I asked her to take the key out the box.
At this point we would expect Adrian to imagine Helens different perception of the same situation and imagine her choosing to open the red box with the expectation of finding the key.
Adrian chooses the yellow box knowing that the key is in that box. He should had chosen the empty red box. In Adrians mind the thought that Helen could think and feel different about something they both have knowledge of is almost impossible for him. Even when their experience of it is different. This way of thinking is referred to as have an impaired theory of mind.
With this belief experiment in mind you begin to understand why many people on the autistic spectrum can easily become frustrated when misunderstood. You can begin to see why change can be a huge struggle at times and why comfort can be found in routine and planning. Understanding how autism influences thought processes and knowing what is required for you to make more of a connection with your loved one will help you to build a more fulfilling relationship with them. Together you have a truly multi-perceptive mind so communicating successfully requires some thought experiments of your own.
Adrian and I would like to give a copy of his eBook ‘I am Adrian’ totally free of charge. Read more…