Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

A Beautiful Mind

Jim Irion
Non-Monetized Together #svalien
3 min readApr 2, 2023

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Autism cannot be seen in our appearance. Neither can thinking, the seat of our self-awareness, be seen to know just how many people are actually autistic. Within the first year after my diagnosis, in 2019, I came up with a remarkable way to describe what neurodivergence would look like if it could be seen. I call it the “downstream” approach because it imagines following the path of a river.

Your journey would begin upstream with the pumping of blood through your heart, followed by your lungs and brain in sequence according to biology. Since autism originates in the brain with neurology, this is what you would see happening next while continuing downstream. You would come to five streams branching out ahead of you. These represent instinct and psychology, or how you respond to the stimuli in your environment.

If you are not autistic, your neurology would follow a typical course for psychology by taking the path furthest to the right. External influences, such as peer pressure and general consensus, could cause you to mask your behavior at this point. For the purposes of this basic example, they will not. If you are autistic, your neurology would follow a different course by taking a path to the left.

I would see people going to the right, and this is how I would describe my choice. “I am going to go this way.” Resolute. Unyielding. I could go to the right. Instead, I am absolutely driven to go my way, as if I am the very rudder and wheel of my course. If I were to factor in the autistic tendency for oppositional defiance, my neurology would follow the distinct opposite by taking the path furthest to the left. We march to the beat of a different drum.

To visualize this in a real-world example, let us make a sandwich. Normally, you would make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or, you might make toasted pumpernickel bread with cream cheese. Both are typical recipes. Since I am neurodivergent, my thinking would reflect a greater chance for different choices. I would combine peanut butter, cream cheese, and ketchup on pumpernickel bread. Does this sound repulsive? Unique? In fact, this is actually a true story.

When I was in first-grade, I made this sandwich for a couple of years. Most people thought it was disgusting. They still do. Thankfully, one of the teachers was more encouraging. “As long as you like it and eat it,” she said. This gives you an idea of how we are viewed by the rest of society. Remember. I am being honest because it makes sense to be accepted for who I am. If food recipes were a sensitive subject, this would qualify as oversharing and being unfiltered.

What if I applied my autism to problem-solving? Here is an excerpt from my article, The Gift That Keeps on Giving.

“Perfectionism was instilled in me during my upbringing. Stress got to the point where I distinctly remember feeling a need to correct it. I thought to myself, “If something is very negative, then why not try the opposite and see if there is a positive effect?” So, I put more effort into appreciating nature. This revealed interesting opportunities for more relaxed thinking. My dad drew my attention to beautiful sunsets and scenery, which was helpful and visually refreshing. If a precise route into town was the fastest and I had extra time but the weather was fair, I took a different route to enjoy the experience. The more unstructured my thinking was, the more I valued the positive difference in my personality.”

Congratulations.

You have just experienced neurodivergence. As logical and structured as it is unexpected and unique. This is what autistic thinking would look like if it could be seen. This is but one fascinating example. Neurodivergence is out there, and it influences more people than many realize…

#LetThatThinkIn

Welcome to the next Autism Experience.
As a Pattern of Fact.

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Jim Irion
Non-Monetized Together #svalien

I am an autistic advocate, writer and presenter. My writing is primary source research material. "A leader leads. They don't walk away when someone needs help."