The whole story
It’s easy to focus on the things that are challenging about autism, and I won’t deny that they exist, but that’s not the whole story. Without whitewashing or sugarcoating anything, there are some great things about an autistic brain that can get overlooked if you focus only on the things that are more difficult.
For example, autistic individuals tend to be very logical, analytical thinkers. We can get to the core of a problem, figure out what needs to happen to make it better, and then implement a solution.
That is just as true for diagnosing life issues as for diagnosing why our favorite game or computer broke. Your life can become one of your special interests, figuring out how your brain and nervous system works, how you respond in certain situations, and what needs to happen to make your whole system operate more smoothly.
Our good memory and ability to focus on things we are interested in can aid this process. And our commitment to routines and order will help implement solutions consistently.
Here are some other things autistics tend to be good at. Granted, these are generalizations, so notice which ones feel true for you. And maybe some are true in some situations, but not all.
- Clear passions
- Good memory
- Spatial reasoning
- Keeping tidy
- Strong sense of justice
- Outside the box thinking
- Attention to detail
- Ability to self soothe
- Academic success
- Direct communication
- Logical reasoning
- Attuned to the environment
- Loyal to friends
- Accepting of others
- What else?
When you’re struggling, the above are exactly the qualities that can help you through the difficult times and make your situation better.
Use these qualities. These are your strengths. Your gifts.
Don’t forget about them just because they’re not always there and not always perfect, or because sometimes you’re stressed and can’t access them, or because other things loom so large that they feel overwhelming.
If it helps, make yourself a list of which ones you feel apply to you, and any others you can think of, and put that list in prominent places. Make copies and post them all around the house if you need to. You’ve probably gotten plenty of negative feedback in your life; now is the time to balance that out with lots of reminders of what you do well.
Read more about autistic strengths here.