I would like to thank my friends at the Aspergian for helping me compose this list! They’re the best!
Autism is hard. It can be tiring, terrifying, infuriating, painful, and overwhelming—all at the same time. Yet, in so many ways Autism defines me, and I’m proud of who I am. Here are ten things to love about autism.
- 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.
I’d love to hear from you! What do you love about being autistic? Or, if you’re not autistic, what is a trait you really value in your autistic loved ones?