Not getting your body to do what you want it to do (i.e., appearing not to pay attention) is a MOVEMENT difference experienced by many people with autism. Although the processing explosion in Question Sets 2 and 3 may seem similar, they originate in two different systems. ANXIETY (often experienced more intensely or more frequently in people with autism), just like it does for any of us when we make certain associations, indeed can lead us off task. Not being able to express why you suddenly became anxious, not being able to explain your ability to make warp speed associations, not understanding that others CAN’T make such warp speed associations, and/or being only able to respond echolalically (saying the same words or phrase over and over instead of speaking with meaning) are all examples of COMMUNICATION differences we see in various presentations of autism. And if you can express your warp speed associations for them, but not how you arrived at them, wouldn’t YOU probably be deemed noncompliant when you insisted (justifiably in your own mind) that your own conclusion was correct? Lastly, how would you feel if you experienced multiple SENSORY differences such as overly acute hearing, extreme light sensitivity, experiencing certain smells as noxious or overpowering even if others don’t, and being so bothered by the clothes you are wearing all you can think about is getting them off? Would you be able to comply or would you protect yourself from being so overwhelmed? And are you the kind of person who self-protects by fighting or fleeing?
Bottom line: We who are not autistic lack Theory of Mind ourselves when we reduce autistic experiences to attention-seeking or escape-avoidance and then accuse others of an inability to comprehend, a tendency to be “off task,” being rude, or being noncompliant. Autism is complex. So are the reasons behind autistic behaviors.
(And, yes, I know that sometimes people with autism behave in totally neurotypical ways – i.e., not going to downtown Guilford because they simply don’t want to and should be afforded the right to make their own choices!)