The Advantges of Autism
I asked the autistic people of Instagram to tell me something great about being autistic.
Here is what they said:
“My passion and enthusiasm”
“My ability to always be authentic”
“I think the greatest thing about it is being part of a community that is specifically for those who have it”
“I’m super observant!”
“Keeping track of complex factors where NT’s can’t grasp it”
“The intensity I connect and perceive the world with”
I asked this question because I want to focus on the positives of autism rather than the negatives. When you are enmeshed in the autism community and have an autistic son, it is easy to center attention around the difficulties; to see autism as a disability and to be fully aware of how autism makes day to day life harder. However, I think we need to reframe the way we see autism.
Every autistic person is different, and not every one will have the same traits. I acknowledge that the proposed list will be generalizing, but I still think it is important to recognize these advantages that can be inherent in autism. Here are some of the benefits to being autistic:
- Visual processing superiority
A 2011 study by Laurent Mottron, a psychiatrist at the University of Montreal, shows that autistic people outperform NTs in auditory and visual tasks, as well as non-verbal tests of intelligence. They are able to concentrate more of their brains’ resources on visual processing, making autistic people up to 40% faster at problem-solving.
Autistics can reach very high levels of concentration when immersed in their special interest. They are able to block out distractions and focus for long periods of time.
Many autistics have superior recall. They are more tuned in to details and can recall them better than NTs.
- Attention to Detail
Autistic people tend to focus on details rather than the big picture. While this can make some situations more challenging, at other times this can be a huge bonus, especially when working around NTs as autistic people often pick up on things that others miss.
Autistic people rarely lie, do not play head-games, and speak what is on their minds. They have very black and white thinking and give open and honest answers.
- Methodical Approach
Many autistic people are very analytical and can spot patterns and repetitions. This can make their approach to tasks very methodical and can make them brilliant organizers.
Autistic people approach things with novel ideas. They can have vivid and singular imaginations and express them with originality.
- A Different World View
Autistic people see the world differently to NTs. This can lead to revolutionary ideas, big and small, some of which have changed the trajectory of our existence.
I believe we need to acknowledge all of the benefits autism brings. This will lead to offering different supports to autistics, teaching to strengths instead of weakness, higher self-esteem for autistics, more respect for the autism community, and ultimately more inclusion. We need to celebrate the autistic brain and what it has to offer. Autism comes with many difficulties, but we need to honor the strengths that it brings so that autistic people get the respect and accommodations they absolutely deserve.