I meant to write a post on my birthday (a week ago today) and failed. April is always a difficult month for a variety of personal reasons, but it’s become even more so with the knowledge that April is Autism Awareness month. I have seen far too many blue puzzle pieces or rainbow puzzle ribbons.
But today isn’t about that. Today is Autism Positivity day, and I’m going to tell you the best things about being autistic, for me.
1. Obsessions. I never really understand why people consider this a negative trait, and refuse to allow autistic children to indulge in their obsessions, rather than using them as an opportunity to learn (or even maybe as a reward if it’s difficult to use it in education). If you meet me in person, I can guarantee you that at some point in time, I will launch into an infodump about why Sherlock Holmes is autistic, why all the female characters are amazeballs, why Susan Pevensie’s ending was the saddest thing I’ve ever read and why I hate C.S. Lewis for what he did to her, and why platonic friendships in all sorts of media aren’t specific to gender and are amazing. Just to name a few.
2. Stimming. There is angry stimming and panicky stimming, and the cause of these is no fun, but stimming itself is AWESOME. And I’ve handflapped and rocked in happiness and contentment and drew patterns over the skin of a fellow autistic person. And co-stimming with another autistic person is by far one of the best things to do.
3. Another way of thinking. This isn’t very concrete, but I find more and more that I think I’m thinking in a similar manner to a neurotypical person, but then I mention what I’m thinking out loud and yeah, I’m not. But so many times, this means I have the solution to a problem that no one else thought of, and sometimes? This makes the life of an autistic child better because their parents get it because I was able to articulate it.
4. Repetition is amazing. This applies to so much and has to do with echolalia as well as repetitive movements like stimming, but also? It is why I am good at my job. I’ve been employed for just 2 1/2 months, and you’d think that isn’t even long enough to be good at my job, but I’ve already been training people. I’m fast and accurate and no one at my job but me likes being in the back because it’s boring, and yeah, when it’s slow, it is, but it’s repetitive and perfect and lovely.
5. Language. Language and words are fantastic and I’ve been an avid reader since I learned right before my 4th birthday – when I apparently taught myself. I was reading at a post high school level in the 2nd grade, and I was often in trouble for trying to read novels behind my science textbooks. I majored in English in college, and even taught it myself for two years (a job that I found too stressful because of red tape and paperwork). I love words, and I love what they can do, the images they can evoke, or the things they do to my ears when they’re spoken. There’s a segment from an episode of Sesame Street that includes the phrase “lilting Liliputian lullaby”, and isn’t that just the best thing to say and hear?