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hiphop
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04 Apr 2018, 8:30 pm

I have been researching different ways of thinking, I came across a lot of things talking about how autistic people are visual thinkers or pattern thinkers, I think visually but not as much as thinking in abstract, it's hard to explain as it is not something I could put visually or with words, it is far more translucent and intangible. One of my greatest strengths is to think abstractly, because of this I have been able to excel at university, I study fine art and it requires a lot of philosophical thought. I excel in understanding connections, my special interest is psychology and I am able to map out the mechanics of thinking and behaviour in my head, I can do the same with philosophy. My brain does not stop analysing abstract ideas, the abstract qualities of everything I see is amplified, and often I can miss a lot of obvious things. It's like I live in another dimension that is not visible, and often unexplainable.

I had a boyfriend who studied philosophy and he would explain to me very complex and abstract concepts and ideas and I would understand them almost immediately, he was shocked because even some of the smartest students would get completely mind-boggled by the ideas they would be taught. I have always been able to understand complex abstract ideas, however I typed into google 'abstract thinking and asperger's, and up comes hundreds of articles claiming that asperger's people are completely unable to think abstractly. I have been looking at asperger's long enough to see that most of the information spewed about it is made up of misunderstandings and often downright false. I find it funny that so many articles are claiming this when I am constantly frustrated by most neurotypical people's attempts at understanding abstraction, to the point where it actually makes me lonely. It seems for them they need to be taught it, and people at university age are still grasping concepts that I could understand at I was 14!

I understand why there is a lot of talk about aspies not being able to think abstractly, and I am sure that a lot can't, I have come across them myself, however I feel that this way of thinking IS related to my brand of asperger's.

So I am wondering, are there any other people who think in this way?



kraftiekortie
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04 Apr 2018, 8:32 pm

I can think that way, when I'm in the mood.

My orientation, though, is more towards the Concrete, rather than the Abstract.

I like a little bit of Abstract in my Concrete, though.



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04 Apr 2018, 9:23 pm

I have a great deal of trouble thinking in abstract terms, so that philosophy was always hard for me and I can't even consider thinking about cosmology. Yet overall I am very intelligent.

Everybody has a different pattern of strengths and weaknesses, and this is true of NTs as well as people with an ASD. You shouldn't make either the mistake of thinking all the autism traits must be true of you, or of thinking that other Aspies have all the same traits as you do.


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04 Apr 2018, 9:42 pm

Yeah, somehow I can understand physicists talking about the properties of nothingness and theories of the universe despite never formally studying it and not having the ability to explain it like they can.

I think it depends on the type of abstraction. I was never a maths wizard, yet some who are really good at it can't seem to grasp the higher levels of abstraction like the nature of everything (and nothing).



MetaSebby
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05 Apr 2018, 5:17 am

This is my second post here, so I fear I might not do this right.

I relate a lot to what you have posted. It's hard for me to express how much I do relate. Also, my special interests are psychology and philosophy, and I do art as well.

What I experience inside me is purely made of sensations. My way of thought functions without language, and therefore relies on my previous experience of the world that I have processed. I have processed the world visually, concepts of the things I have seen. Having to re-construct everything I experience inside my mind just so I can comprehend it. If I was going to look at a chair for the first time I would have to understand it's whole parts, what it's functions are, etc.

This builds up a version of the world in my mind, and is the basis of a language without words. One which relies on my subconscious. My language plays with the constructed world inside my head, but can morph it into anything. And it can morph around the world I see in order for me to understand it better.

When I was younger, I found it incredibly hard to articulate what was going on inside of me. At times I have been bashing my head on the wall, screaming "I WANT TO GET OUT OF MY HEAD" hoping I would crack my skull open and my soul would escape, because it was just too much. I have felt so alone.

I have described my way of thought as a baby. The language part of me is the adult, and the adult has to understand what that baby is experiencing, in order to translate it. It has taken a long while for that grown up to understand what I was experiencing.



naturalplastic
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05 Apr 2018, 5:47 am

SOME low functioning Kanner-type autistics find it impossible to think abstractly even about basics that you might not even think of as being "abstract".

A lady friend was a caretaker to a young boy like that. Concepts like "money (and earing it)", or "one own future" are all impossible for him to grasp because they all abstract.

So that might be where the myth comes from that autism spectrum folks in general all "cant think abstractly". Obvious nonsense. Many aspies are adept at abstract thinking though we still may differ in thinking style. Many NTs and aspies are visual thinkers, and many of both NTs and aspies are not visual thinkers, for example.



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05 Apr 2018, 6:22 am

I sort of enjoy abstract concepts and I can roughly follow what is being discussed. Where I get lost is in the details referencing equations which support the abstract concept.

To be a little fair, the most recent example was the audio book biography of Richard Feynman who was tackling concepts that challenged the smartest physicists of his day. Anything to do with his Quantum Mechanics in detail can seem mind bendingly weird, but even if I don't fully grasp it, I enjoy learning how bizarre nature can be.

I wonder if this could be related, but I enjoy extreme Surrealism in Art, Film, or Fiction.



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05 Apr 2018, 3:36 pm

I have a hard time with abstract thinking, that was one of the reasons why school was hard for me. Even children are abstract so I have troubles too as a parent. I also could never learn algebra. I was worse as a kid though so my mom had to learn to teach me and how to punish me so I was learning the right lesson and not thinking I got in trouble for being hungry and that was out of my control so therefore the adult was stupid and unfair and I learned nothing from the punishment.


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05 Apr 2018, 5:21 pm

Abstract thinking, if I understand correctly what is meant by it, is the only thinking that I'm good at.
I'm good at maths, mathematical thinking, finding patterns.

I suck at learning facts or extracting crucial stuff from a lot of information. I totally can't absorb and connect information about stuff like history, politics, economy, management. I'm unable to be practical.



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05 Apr 2018, 7:07 pm

It's interesting to see the range of responses to this question. I'm autistic and a pattern thinker. In fact it's quite hard for me to imagine how people can actually think in words or pictures. I do well with abstract thinking, specifically in mathematics, symbolic logic, programming, statistics and economics (which is the subject I have a degree in).



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05 Apr 2018, 10:11 pm

I'm mainly a visual thinker who thinks in pictures. I like to experiment with abstract thinking when I'm working on my art. It makes things more colourful and exciting.


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Edna3362
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06 Apr 2018, 1:20 am

In my case, it gets confusing.
While abstract thinking is one of my strongest suits, and it itself extends to nonverbal mediums in thinking and learning.

Here's an example of confusing parts:
Most notable kind in my case would be Verbal language.
Receptively, I'm being concrete -- literal. Yet expressively, it gets less concrete. It didn't helped that the verbal medium is one of my weakest suits, so it's a recipe for a writing to the point of being nonsensical.
So if I type my own words somewhere, then read it later, I could get more confused at it. Unless I myself have to recall how and why did I wrote it that way in the first place, I may not know what I meant. Because I've been reading a more abstract like and very loose writing with concrete reading.


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06 Apr 2018, 2:40 am

I have always been drawn to thinking in abstracts, concepts, structures, connections, patterns etc. The problem is that it often takes a lot of time and dedication to express verbally things that I already seem to know in my mind. I don't seem to fit very well into detail-oriented AS-stereotype, verbal minutiae more than often bores me out (I however can be quite detail-oriented when it comes to enjoying all kinds of patterns the world has to share).



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06 Apr 2018, 12:43 pm

Obviously with a spectrum condition and with the number of Aspies who are very good at mathematics, to say we've no head for abstract concepts is way over the top.

I can remember balking at abstract concepts when I was a child. I preferred concrete stuff where I knew what was what. When they tried to teach me about imaginary numbers, I just thought "what's the point in studying something that doesn't exist?" I'm still waiting for an answer to that. I guess somebody must have used them to do some good. Imaginary numbers still make no sense to me, and it seems my brain refuses to clutter itself by learning such nonsense. I have to feel some faith in the information's value to me before I can absorb it. But I suspect that's just normal. A lot of people hate mathematics, there's something painful about it, at least to begin with.

My parents were geared to the concrete rather than the abstract. But their education had been terrible compared with the education they helped me to access. Maybe it's more to do with how abstract concepts are introduced (and whether or not they're introduced at all) that affects the ability more. I think with me, if an idea doesn't map easily onto something I already know, I find it very hard to take it on board at all.

I always used to hate abstract art, and was surprised to hear the theory that painting and drawing was now evolving into the abstract in the same way as music had become abstract a long time ago, that originally music was probably no more than imitating real sounds from nature just as "conventional" painting and drawing usually imitated real life. But I became a keen musician at an early age, and was more interested in the music than the words.



naturalplastic
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06 Apr 2018, 1:37 pm

What is abstract, and what is not abstract? That is the question.

A college roommate and I debated something about world affairs. I said something about "anything that reduces the defense budget is good". He said that "the defense budget is too abstract". But if the subject had been him making his rent money for that month it would gotten very concrete for him very fast. Yet its the same thing. Money. Columns of figures. So...go figure!