That's a great question and it's one that my partner recently asked me, given that I am a voracious reader.

When I read, I don't necessarily see the scene depicted in whatever I'm reading, but I do understand what it "should" look like. For instance, while my brain doesn't form images based on what I am reading, if I had to draw it I could do so.

It's like the image is there somewhere in the back of my mind, but behind a layer of film that obscures it.

Ultimately, I don't totally understand how neurotypical people "see" scenes in the books they read, so I don't have much to compare my experience to. I do know that I tend to enjoy books that are particularly dense and descriptive. Tolkien, for instance, wrote his work in a particularly vivid manner that many other people find boring, but I find fascinating.

Another thing is that I connect the stories I read to things I have experienced in my life. If an author depicts a forest, I imagine the woods behind my parent's house from when I was growing up. If an author depicts a busy street, I imagine the streets that I am used to having lived in several major cities as well as my small hometown.

Ultimately, I tend to get frustrated with works that are particularly metaphorical, both because I'm autistic and struggle to connect to metaphor and because I don't know how to imagine scenes that aren't written out in great detail.

Autistic Queer Transfemme writer & designer based out of Los Angeles. She/Her/They/Their. Editor of Anthology.

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