Learn Why Autistic Children Think in Pictures Instead of Words

Communication skills for autistic children differ from the norm, including their thinking process. Children with autism find words too busy, so it's easier to retain information through pictures. Through remembrance of pictures, autistic children are able to understand others and express themselves.

Autistic children learn verbal language by converting text to pictures. While typical thinkers do tasks sequentially, those with autism have a visual style of thinking. Therefore, shapes of pictures and color of pictures play an important role in the way they think. They help autistic children learn a vocabulary that is easier to express.

According to research, individuals with autism think visually because the part of the brain associated with visual tasks is more active. In addition, the language and spatial centers in the cortical regions of the brain are not as synchronized as those without the disorder.

Visual thinking allows children with autism to compensate for spoken and written words. Because their brains function differently, they can better comprehend things by building visuals and memorizing them. They take concepts, which are sensory rather than word based, and compartmentalize them into little details to form a whole picture.

Autistic children can be taught abstract words and ideas through visual concepts, like pictures and objects. For example, if a particular stuffed animal makes a child happy, it would become their visual symbol for the word happy. Bright colors for pictures can stimulate brain activity in the thinking process of autistic children.

Autistic children find it easier to express themselves within a structured environment. Because people with autism think visually, it's important that they are taught using visuals, such as pictures, objects, line drawings, or symbols. Through spatial memory to pictures or objects, people with autism are able to associate the appropriate words and develop communication skills that allow them to function in society.

For children with autism, a string of words or verbal instructions are learned through visual demonstration. For instance, the word "up" is easier to express in a picture of balloons in soft colors being lifted upward. Concrete visual methods, like flashcards and blocks in soft colors, are easier to retain among autistic children and help in teaching numbers and other concepts. Long verbal phrases need to be avoided or written down because autistic children have difficulty remembering a lot of steps or word sequences.

Research that compared the brain regions of people with autism to those without found that most people with autism excel in art and drawing. As such, autistic children do well with a color coded system that allows them to think through a remembrance of pictures. For example, an autistic child learns about what to do at an intersection by thinking of its concept. These thoughts are tiny color coded pictures of various types of intersections. When the situation arises, the mind gathers this information and presents it visually so the autistic child remembers what to do at an intersection.

Autistic children think in pictures instead of words because it is easier for them to sort and retain information. By associating a noun to the color and shape of pictures or objects, the autistic child creates a spatial way of thinking that makes it easier for them to comprehend and communicate.

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This article was published on 28 Jul 2009 and has been viewed 1314 times
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