Autistic Consultant & Independent Researcher, Wenn, leading by example to empower autistic individuals and promote quality co-produced research


Autistic perception, cognition and processing of every day life is quite different to that found within the neuro-typical world. Consequently, without specific 'keys' that help us to understand ASD, communication with others can be confusing and open for mis-interpretation.

Within my own experience and those shared with many of my Autistic friends we have noted that our perception, cognition and processing of every day life is governed by the following factors:
- Literality
- Being singley channeled (serial concepts)
- Thinking in pictures
- Social non-priorities
- Non-generalized learning
- Issues with time and motion
- Issues with predicting outcomes

For me, how I process life is therefore, dependent upon the above factors. Understanding these concepts will give us more 'keys' to comprehending Autism.

I suggest that an AS individual's life needs to be structured and orchestrated due to their difficulty with predicting outcomes. For example, a child's need to line up objects or engage in other ordered tasks and obsessions is born from the need to know what will come next and to be sure that this will always happen. Perhaps the reader could pause for a moment and 'imagine' how life might be if they were not able to predict consequences!

Being singly channelled and only able to perceive one concept at one time, serial fashion, indicates that I need to be given instructions one by one. It is very easy to overload an ASD person with too many words or concepts at once. Neuro-typical people can be multi-channeled, able to look and listen at the same time (i.e. drive a car, engage in conversation and listen to the radio all at the same time). Due to my being singly channelled, however, this would not be possible for me.

Every situation that I encounter is like encountering it for the first time. I tend to not take what I have learnt from one situation and be able to apply it to another. This makes generalising my learning's very difficult. However, I can learn to generalise by academically learning the rules for each situation independently.

Sometimes events that are stored in my long-term memory present not as parts of the past but as very present issues. Time, therefore, for me appears to always be in the present. Concepts of the 'Future' are very difficult to imagine.