It’s easy to identify the challenges that come with being on the autism spectrum. There is a clear and obvious struggle with many things that seem to come easily to others. Everyday things most of us do naturally can be distressing, or at least present significant obstacles; making eye contact … holding a conversation … handling social situations …
All these things make getting through the school day a little more intense and navigating the social aspect of life a bit more of an uphill battle.
Sometimes is seems like this all we talk about when the topic of autism comes up.
But being autistic isn’t all about stumbling blocks and impossible challenges. It’s also about the gift of being able to see and interpret the world differently. And different doesn’t have to mean limited or somehow lesser than. In fact, it would be pretty easy to make a case for how some of the differences in perception and thought processing that often accompany autism actually provide a unique perspective and a new way of looking at problems that can lead to innovative solutions unencumbered by social morays and established convention.
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And this bears itself out – in the area of science we need only look at the likes of Temple Grandin who brought important and humane innovations to the field of animal behavior… and in the arts, we know eccentric film maker Tim Burton must be seeing the world a bit differently to create the whimsical and other-worldly experience movie-goers love so much … and in athletics the singular focus of guys like Clay Marzo has forever changed how everyone sees what is possible in the sport of surfing.
We wanted to have some fun identifying the awesome characteristics often seen with people on the autism spectrum; the things we feel everybody would agree might make life a little sweeter, a little more interesting.
Here’s the ten things anyone on the spectrum will tell you are pretty awesome about the unique way they see the world…
I appreciate many things.
While others are busy engaging in shallow conversations and occupied by societal niceties, I am fascinated with the small things, enjoying many of the things that most people ignore. I love feeling the breeze through my hair and the sun on my face. I listen to the leaves moving on the trees and the birds fluttering about. I love to watch the clouds move across the sky, along with a high-flying plane. Things you may not take the time to notice I not only notice, but I revel in.
I don’t judge others.
I don’t pay much attention to many of the things that seem so important to neurotypical people. I don’t care if you’re fat, skinny, rich, or poor. I don’t care what kind of car you drive or the house you live in. If I like you, I like you because you’re kind and you make me feel happy. I won’t judge you by the outfit you wear or the job you have. I don’t care if you’re having a bad hair day, or if I’m your only friend. In fact, chances are I won’t even notice these things. Social expectations are unimportant to me, so I won’t judge you, just as I hope you won’t judge me.
I never have a hidden agenda.
If I say something, you can be sure it’s what I mean. I’m not good at reading faces and body language, and sarcasm is foreign to me. This means that emotional games don’t work with me. I’m not good at telling you about my emotions, and I’m also not good at reading yours. With me you’re going to get a straightforward relationship with no hidden intentions and no ulterior motives. You’ll never need to worry about interpreting or translating what I say.
The details fascinate me.
While fixating on the little things may frustrate those around me, it’s this attention to detail that makes me truly unique. Children on the autism spectrum who hyper-focus on something may have difficulties forming relationships and relating to others who don’t share their interest. But as adults, these traits can be highly valuable in certain fields that rely on experts who not only pay attention to the details, but who are actually fixated on them; fields like cybersecurity, engineering, applied mathematics, research and development… In other words, what may seem like a challenging trait at first can end up being a highly valuable one later on as I look to make my way in the world.
I am wonderfully creative.
I have the ability to think abstractly, so my solution to a problem may very well be far different than yours. Most people think that I am a rigid thinker and, to some extent, I am. But often times, my creativity comes in the form of ‘divergent thinking,’ or the ability to think outside the box. I may not come up with as many ideas as someone else, but my ideas are often the most conceptual. I can often imagine and envision things other simply can’t.
I am honest.
The idea of there being some advantage to dishonesty just isn’t on my mind. In fact, it doesn’t fit with my way of thinking. If you ask me something, I will tell you what I know. I won’t need to make up a version of what I think you’ll want to hear because it just won’t occur to me to do so. It also means that if you ask my opinion on something, I’m going to tell you what I think rather than what I think you want me to say. I enjoy honest, open relationships that aren’t built on fabrications, half-truths, and deceptions.
I have a strong sense of justice.
Even though I struggle to understand what most people mean when they talk about being “empathetic,” I do have a strong sense of justice and fairness. If I find a cause that resonates with me, I will pursue a solution with a level of singular focus and passion beyond what could be expected from most neurotypical people and will fight for what is right with every ounce of who I am. My tendency to focus on a particular subject makes me likely to champion causes I believe in. I also have a strong sense of what’s right and wrong, and this sense tends to guide me throughout my life.
I am decisive.
I live in a black and white world. There’s no muddy, grey areas. I’m straightforward, upfront, and direct. If I love something, I always love it. If I hate something, there’s no changing my mind. You’ll never struggle to figure me out. I am an open book!
I am passionate about the things that interest me most.
If I have an interest in something, you can expect me to learn everything I can about it. The things that interest me become my passion, so I often achieve expert-level knowledge in these areas. You’ll never find me with a shortage of things to share and talk about when it comes to my area of interest. As an adult, this passion can translate into a successful career in a specific field.
I can’t be underestimated.
I have challenges and have witnessed my share of hardships. But I have many amazing qualities that make me awesome. Give me a chance and I will surely amaze and inspire you. Never underestimate me!