Editor’s note: this is not a sponsored post.
When I say that I read dozens of self-help books and did dozens of assessments on what I thought was wrong with me as a teen without an autism diagnosis, I mean it. That drive of deep self-hate dominated my life as a teen and as an adult. It would have continued hating myself post-diagnosis if not for David Rendall’s book, The Freak Factor.
To me, it was a wild concept: your weaknesses are where your strengths lie, so flaunt them more often. I honestly had a hard time with that premise alone.
I grew up in a world that normally just sees what is wrong with people. So I tried my very best to repress my weaknesses to be the normal individual I needed to be to the rest of the world and just made myself miserable and sad.
Then I read Rendall’s book, took his assessment, and remembered that my parents and other adults saw that I was: messy, quick-tempered, distractable, shy, and rebellious. But in David’s view: Messy is Creative, Quick-Tempered is Passionate, Distractable is Exploring, Shy is Quiet, and Rebellious is Radical.
If you read The Freak Factor, you can’t help but leave it seeing the strengths in the weaknesses of people that others and businesses complain about. The pushover kid is altruistic. The coworker who’s indecisive is cautious. My stubborn father is persistent.
Rendall talks about going to where your best fit is and mitigating your weaknesses in other aspects of your life. If I had a teacher, parent, counselor, boss, or other adult say, “Oh, he doodles all over his work? Put him in art class!” as a kid, my life would’ve been a lot better.
So, I recommend buying his book, watching his interviews, visiting his site, getting him to speak for you, getting Freak Factor for Kids: The Weirdest and Weakest Children Make the Best Adults, etc.
A lot of the time I see neurotypicals that want to commit vast amounts of time and resources to creating a place for the neurodiverse instead of cultivating their strengths and interests and finding a fit with that. My top regret personally is that I wish I had read The Freak Factor earlier so I could share this philosophy with more people.
If you want to see David explain the premise and don’t really want to read it, here’s a YouTube video: