Thursday, July 27, 2017

7 Things I Like About Being Autistic

Being autistic isn't all misery and woe; we're just a little different. But like non-autistic people, we have strengths and weaknesses. Here are some of the things I like about being autistic.
DISCLAIMER: While these apply to me, they may not necessarily reflect all autistic people. 




1. Feeling "high" all the time

Trippy, man.
Okay, maybe not 24/7, but definitely very often. I have a strong visual mind, vivid dreams and imagination, and an overall rich perception of life. While it makes me vulnerable to sensory overload, it also allows me to feel all sorts of euphoriaand without drugs. Music can be an spiritual experience, my emotions reacting like a VU meter (those little fluctuating volume bars on stereo systems). 

And just about anything I see with my eyes or visualize in my head can be beautiful, regardless of what it is. So anything visual and/or auditory that I enjoy can easily draw me in and mesmerize me.


2. My attention to detail
Just look at that grass. Look at it.
This can be both amazing and annoying. Amazing because it makes mindfulness techniques super easy: a single blade of grass can grab my attention and hold it. I can never ignore the rays of sunlight through the clouds, or forget a fire-hydrant painted like Van Gogh's "The Starry Night." Annoying because a single utensil out of place in the kitchen makes me irate 😠, and a bit of shine can distract me from a conversation and I'd have to ask the other person to repeat themselves.

Another benefit to this is my strict adherence to guidelines: I like to do things by the book 📖, every detail done correctly. This helps me in cooking / baking challenging recipes and make it good (or better) every time. And it certainly helps me in all my creative endeavors like writing and video editing, as I make sure everything is just right and meets expectations. It may annoy employers or professors who assign "normal" deadlines, but I can work thoroughly and skillfully when given the proper timeframe.


3. My unbreakable focus
Don't interrupt me.
I can focus intensely for long periods of time. Combining this with my attention to detail helps me memorize facts, imagery, and crucial information. When I get interested in something, my mind is hooked and I can't tear myself away. It's much easier to control this now that I'm an adult, but I do let off the reigns selectively when my hyperfocus has a reasonable purpose.

For instance, my "Mask of Normality" video was the result of my hyperfocus for two days straight, only taking breaks to eat and sleep. I don't typically do this long-term, but it's useful for projects big and small. One exception is my Asperger's documentary. My fiancé recalls me working on the film almost every night for many hours when I was in college, and he would often stay on a Skype call with me until he couldn't stay awake anymore. I would keep plugging away in the meantime, sometimes until sunrise. My focus seems to weirdly defy (or ignore) my human needs, so I'd gladly call it a superpower.


4. My connection to the earth
Everything is beautiful.
While I do like big cities as a site for social adventures, nothing beats wandering the forest on resting days. I seem to have a primal connection to nature, so being surrounded by it makes me feel at home. Too much of the city and I start to feel a strong urge to run off to the woods and away from people.

I also have an overall childlike fascination with the world and everything in it. So regardless of where I am (city, forest, Disneyland, parking lot, dumpster), I can always find something to amuse me. It's like mindfulness, taking in a scene or focus on a detail, and I hold onto that moment as if it is something miraculous.


5. Accepting others comes naturally
That's me taking the group selfie.
I find it easy to like anyone regardless of their differences. Since I myself have a disability, I understand from personal experience not to judge a book by its cover. This makes it easier for me to make friends 😊, and a very diverse mix of of them at that. The only downsides to this are some awkward social outings with mismatched friendsI can't always tell when people are uncomfortable with each otherand my vulnerability to toxic behavior / abuse thanks to my trusting nature. I'm more wary of the warning signs nowadays, though.


6. My deep self-awareness
Focus inwardly to improve outwardly.
My self-awareness makes me naturally insightful when it comes to things I experience, observe and internalize. This might seem odd for an aspie emotionally, considering the commonality of alexithymia among autistics (difficulty identifying / expressing one's own emotions). I DO have this problem, but I am quite good at psychoanalyzing myself in retrospect. This means I need to experience something first, live through the consequences (often many times), then recognize why it happened and how I should respond next time.

I've been told I am very self-aware and insightful, which surprised me at first since I assumed it to be normal, and then I felt sorry for those who lack the same ability (I guess that's why we have therapists!). At least I now know my anxiety triggers and how to avoid them in most cases, and have worked through some of them by delving into the psychology behind them. It's also helped my bodily awareness and planning a natural health regimen to further improve my well-being.


7. My constant need/drive for self-improvement
Truth.
It's easy to get lazy in your habits when you're well-adjusted and comfortable. But if you're the average autistic, you're probably not well-adjusted by nature. You're forced to adapt to the world around you on a daily basis, and because you lack instinctive social skills, you have to work pretty dang hard to learn them. This constant demand to fit in has always kept me on my toes, even in recent years when I do feel more well-adjusted (some people forget I am autistic).

Since self-improvement has been drilled into me socially, I apply this to other areas of my life like managing my emotions, healing my traumas, and replacing unhealthy habits with beneficial ones.

It also comes in handy in pushing myself to excel in my areas of interest and skill, like writing, video editing, cooking, naturopathy and (more recently) cultivating plants.

What do you like about being autistic? Comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

4 comments:

  1. It is a very inspiring observation on autism and needs to be included in education of montessori teachers so that it helps in developing new kind of society where such gifted childrens can optimally contribute

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    1. Thank you. :) I don't know much about montessori education but it sounds pretty good. I do think that one's abilities should be emphasized more than their deficits in education.

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  2. you seem very good at psycho analyzing..
    Im very open minded to " unusual people " but i tend to think of everything normal as a "hostile environment " but i've had years of bullying and rejection and ridicule as my base so yeah its a bad base.
    I can connect with most of these thoughts thanks for making this website in written text and not just videos. both are good. i really appreciate the different colours in text somehow made it more easy on the eyes and more easy to read. i feel like text usually boggles me and i loose where i am and have to re-read a lot. But im more of a mix picture-and touch- feel and talk and discuss to learn. and often if its a story i tend to remember a lot.
    School was just a major downhill .. im still struggling to find my strengths and what i want in life in my 29th year in life ^^.
    I really enjoy colours and orchestras.
    i can REALLY relate to "visual mind, vivid dreams and imagination, and an overall rich perception of life"
    my visual mind goes crazy happy when i watch a really vivid visually inspiring show with good music..
    And i often daydream and blackout while working it may take sometime for me to discover that someone is staring or trying to make contact with me, hehe.

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  3. Hi Alyssa,
    I loved reading this! "Connection to the Earth" resonated with me, as well as the need for self-improvement.
    I love that I have a strong sense of right and wrong, and want to fight for justice. In the same way I like that I feel empathy for people in difficult situations and want to help them.
    Keep on keeping on! Your blog is really helpful and enjoyable to read.
    Best,
    Catie

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