Patterns are an aspies best friend. We're fascinated by them and we tend to notice them everywhere, intentional or otherwise.
Patterns for Walking
Floor tiles are truly incredible. Whenever I'm out walking, I find myself subconsciously following their patterns on the ground - even when they cause me to take a less direct route to my intended destination.
It doesn't have to be tiles though. Even if there appears to be no pattern, I'll find one. Sometimes, I'll define my own. Often, when walking I'll define a pattern on the pavement; step in the centre of the pavers, step in the top sections only or less often, step only on the cracks. It must make my walking look funny but I really can't help it. I even do it while running - and more than once I've tripped and fallen because of this curious obsession.
Stimming on Walls
Wall tiles with illustrations are even more distracting. With these, I'll catch myself squinting to blur the lines and make new shapes, estimating their numbers or designing, in my head, a new font (lettering style) around them.
The same is true for furniture coverings, fabric textures, grilles and structures (buildings, fences etc). Back when I had a great harbour viewe from my office, I used to play "mental tetris" with the buidings, fitting them into new shapes and designs.
The World of Mathematics
I've never really been a math genius but I usually do well enough to cope. My maths is at its best when I can find a pattern to follow. I remember at school, I'd always solve problems differently to the other kids. This would have the side-effect of making me slower than the others (at first) but as the patterns began to set in, I'd get much faster.
I remember floundering badly towards the latter parts of algebra and hearing my friends saying "wait until you start on calculus". I was worried but I needn't have been. Calculus was full of patterns and I took to it like a duck to water.
Patterns occur in all things and I often catch myself subconsciously sorting by colour. I love colour graduations. This much is obvious when I'm putting the kid's cups and bowls away.
How to tell when an aspie has been in your cupboard
Does it make me a good designer? No, unfortunately, just because a set of colours is pleasing to
me, doesn't mean that it appeals to other people. More often than not, it doesn't.
Colour isn't the only source of purely visual patterns, not by a long shot. I remember as a child I was fascinated by the patterns that candles made when you squinted and moved your head. I don't do that anymore though because I had it pointed out to me enough times in a short career as an altar boy.
Stimming with Sound
You'd be wrong if you thought that sound wasn't important to deaf people. It is. I'm only partially deaf in any case but I know a few fully deaf people who enjoy the vibrations that sound makes.
I listen to "normal" music, like everyone else, though these days, most of my favourite artists are sadly found in the bottom of the bargain bins.
As well as rock and popular (and unpopular) artists, I like a few instrumental pieces - mostly from films. It seems that these can evoke interesting moods and feelings, sometimes but not always related to the films themselves.
There are however a few pieces which have great multi-layered patterns in them and which I find myself humming, tapping or otherwise beating out as I go about my daily activities. These songs have remained unchanged for more than a decade and I can only assume that it's because their patterns are so interesting. They are the themes for**: Halloween, Terminator and a specific variant of Doctor Who (the Worlds of Doctor Who).
You know that you've been tapping out themes too long when your kids start doing it too.
** Obviously I can't link to the copyrighted songs so I've selected some free midi files which sound similar enough that you should be able to see the patterns.
I'm not really sure that there was a point to this post other than;
- A fascination with patterns is a normal aspie trait.
- It can assist academically.
- It appears in many forms - even if you suppress one form, it will rise in another.
- Patterns form the basis of many different forms of stimming.
- There is nothing wrong with it, accept it and move on.