It is so easy to focus on the challenges that are associated with being autistic. Everything we read or discuss is about the struggle to do things that most people do naturally: making eye contact, holding a conversation, handling social situations, etc. etc….. But being autistic isn’t only about our challenges - It’s also about the gift of being able to see and interpret the world differently. So, lets celebrate our differentness for a change.
A great example is this article on the Neuroclastic Blog, where the author describes 10 things he loves about being autistic:
My mind is never boring.
While sometimes it feels like I’m controlled by recursive thought patterns, I love that my mind is in constant motion. My brain never stops unless I’m asleep. I can spend five hours practicing for a conversation that will never happen. I can spend another five hours working out a math problem. Sometimes, I spend the entire day thinking about the plot of the show I’m currently obsessing over or brainstorming ideas for my next novel. Once I became a Jewish housewife for a week. My brain is a lot of things, but it is never dull.
My interests give me a constant source of happiness.
Some autistic people have one or two interests that stay with them. Some have many interests over the course of their lives. But for all of us, our interests are a huge part of what makes us who we are. As a kid, my interests were atlases, Power Rangers, and Ghostwriter. I didn’t really care about anything else except those three things. Now, I’m all about General Hospital and the novel I’m writing. Most of the time, my whole world revolves around just those two things. But I love it. If I’m feeling sad, I know I can always read old stories I wrote and see my mood immediately improve. One of the reasons I managed to survive years of physical and emotional abuse is because I always had my interests to fall back on. They were the things I trusted and threw my focus into when I had no friends. They were the reason I kept fighting when I felt hopeless.
I’m a great judge of character.
I can sense a douchebag a mile away. Conversely, I can sense when someone has a genuine, big heart. A lot of NTs want to please everyone so they try to see the good in people even when the person is only going to cause them pain.
I have the most supportive community you can ask for.
The autism community is amazing. Most of us have experienced intense loneliness, and we know how hard it is to make friends. When we find someone we connect with on an emotional level, we don’t take it for granted. We value our friendships because we have to work so hard to obtain them. We support each other, fight for each other, and do what we can to make each other’s lives more bearable.
I’m not bound by inane social conventions.
Most social conventions are silly. As a society, we teach social conventions to our kids without acknowledging that they are social conventions. Everything is black and white. We ignore cultural differences, as well as differences in neurotypes. I’m more likely to question or ignore conventions and do what makes sense to me. I’m also more aware of cultural differences and understand that just because something is different doesn’t mean that it is inferior.
We have tenacity when the cause is for the greater good.
Autistic care deeply about the greater good. I know people who overcome exhaustion, personal attacks, self-doubt, and so much more so they can keep fighting for what they believe in. This extends beyond just autistic advocacy to all marginalized groups. We tend to root for the underdog.
The mixing of sensory experiences is a unique feature of autism that shapes how a lot of us see the world.
Synesthesia allows many of us to experience the world in a way that neurotypicals can only fantasize about. Some autistic people hear music in colors and shapes. Some even see whole landscapes when they listen to a song. Others taste or feel textures when they hear a certain word or have an emotional reaction when they see a certain color. For some of us who have synesthesia, a sensory experience can be so powerful it gives us chills or move us to tears.
We have an incredible ability to hyperfocus.
In high school, my teachers were mesmerized by my ability to focus. I could spend hours on a test without taking a break. I have ADHD and distract easily, but when I have something to hyperfocus on, my brain feels at peace.
We can feel contentment with solitude.
While I enjoy socializing, I’m perfectly content with solitude. I enjoy my own company. Some people sink into depression when they feel alone or isolated, but I just feel like I can freely be myself.
I’m resilient and perseverant.
It never occurs to me to give up, unless my anxiety is at 110%. I strive for perfection because I feel deeply connected to the work, education, and other endeavors I’ve pursued. For example, I had horrible penmanship as a kid. I cared so much about writing and school that I practiced every day until I could write each letter of the alphabet perfectly. As an adult, this trait is invaluable as a novelist.
In this article on the Autism Help Studio Blog, an autistic mom of an autistic child explains why she loves the fact that our brains are so different:
1. Attention to detail
Autistic individuals may have a keen attention to detail. The things that other people tend to miss or not focus on, which can be helpful in many cases.
2. Strong memory
Many Autistic individuals have excellent memory skills and can recall information with great accuracy. I, in particular have a crazy strong visual memory.
3. Unique perspectives
Autistic individuals may have a unique way of looking at the world, which can lead to innovative ideas and solutions. Sometimes, there is no need to over complicate things. And we generally tend to see things in Black or White. Therefore, it makes it much easier for us to simplify a situation.
4. Intense focus
Most Autistic individuals are able to focus intensely on tasks or interests they are passionate about, leading to high levels of achievement and success. If it is something that interest us, we can spend all several consecutive all-nighters on it, easily. Without wanting to give up.
Autistic individuals may have a strong sense of honesty and integrity, which can be very valuable in personal and professional relationships. Also some autistic people, tend to be unable to lie. We say what we see and speak what we know. That’s it.
Many Autistic individuals are highly creative and may excel in artistic or musical pursuits. In other words, if we learn something and we like it. We will learn it really well.
People who have Autism form very strong bonds with others and exhibit a deep sense of loyalty to those they care about. We are also all about familiarity. What this means, is that once we find a person who is ‘our’ person, whether they are our safe space or close friend. We hold them dear to us. For life!
8. Black and White thinking
We tend to keep emotions out of our scenarios. For the most part. It is either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. Not a maybe! If something is logical and makes sense, then we go with that. We know what we want. And what we like. It really eliminates a whole guessing drama game.
Autistic individuals may be skilled at analyzing complex information and identifying patterns or connections that others may miss.
10. Unique talents
Many autistic individuals have unique talents or abilities that can be leveraged for personal or professional success.
According to the author: "I have a thing. Where I can memorise codes and passwords. Not by knowing the numbers. But by watching which buttons your fingers press, where the buttons are located and the sequence that you push those buttons in.
So you could torture me for a safe combination and for the life of me, I will not be able to tell you.
However, put me in front of the safe and I will open it in seconds, if I have seen you open the safe before. I am not really sure which profession that this skill would be helpful to. Other than a professional criminal maybe."
And lastly, in one of her blogposts, Autistic Mama asked the Embracing Autism Facebook Group for awesome things about being autistic. Based on their response, she created a list of 25 things that make autism awesome. Here it is:
25 Things That Make Autism Awesome
When we flap with joy.
Our love of memory games.
Our hysterical honest comments.
Our ability to stun people with facts.
We can turn anything into a toy.
Our strong sense of self.
We think outside the box.
We physically light up when excited.
We have a greater sensory experience.
We notice patterns where others miss them.
Our love of straight lines and order.
We are accepting of everyone.
We can quote every line of a movie.
The joy of our special interests.
Our empathy for the oppressed.
Our adorable crazy hair.
We appreciate silly jokes.
Our near photographic memory.
Our eternally optimistic outlook.
Our stimming when we are happy.
We see the hidden things in life that neurotypicals miss.
Our pure love without rules.
Our ability to hyperfocus.
We don’t stress about social rules.
Our unique perspective on life.
Do you identify with any of these reasons listed here? What makes your autism awesome? Spend some time this weekend to think about it. And write it down! So that you can remind yourself every now and then.
If you are not convinced yet that being autistic is awesome, here are some more articles you can read about the subject:
10 Awesome Things about having Autism Spectrum Disorder
Let’s Celebrate the Pros of Being Autistic
7 activists tell us the best thing about being autistic
Autism Can Be an 'Advantage,' Researcher Says
8 Awesome & Admirable “Autistic Personality Traits”
Autism's Hidden Gifts