When we think of autism, unless we’re talking about someone who is a savant, or a computer whiz, we very rarely focus on the autistic traits that help neurodiverse individuals thrive. Autistic and neurodiverse superpowers do exist, and I will unpack what some of mine are for those who are curious.
I am good at compartmentalizing.
Over the years, I’ve developed the ability to compartmentalize. I believe this may have developed as a trauma response given the emotional and sexual abuse I endured throughout my childhood. Or it’s something I always had, that unlocked for me as I grew up. As a kid, I struggled at first to learn how to read and write. My parents decided to have me redo the first grade, and I flourished my second time in first grade.
As a teen, I would frequent my local library, often reading multiple books at once. I was able to keep the plots of the books I read for fun and for school straight, and this compartmentalization only helped me in college when the reading load was much heavier. To this day, this ability has only grown. I can read 10+ books at once and keep the plots straight in my mind.
In my work life, this has helped me by allowing me to process and compartmentalize multiple customer interactions simultaneously.
I am naturally curious, and am good at connecting with others.
As mentioned in a recent blog post, people often told me I couldn’t possibly be autistic because I would literally talk to anyone. In my mind, there were no barriers for conversation. People are people, and people deserve to be heard, listened to, and accepted for who they are. As a neurodiverse person, I often thwarted social norms and was frequently seen listening to and speaking to people from different classes, races, and ethnicities. In fact, it took me a long time to realize that it was those labels that prevented many others from doing the same.
For me, it was mind-boggling to me how things like class, race, religion or sexual creed could make someone less-worthy as a human. In fact, I think it is my autism that enables me to be a fierce advocate for those who are different than myself. Being on the autism spectrum has forced me to face head-on how differences one is not always aware of can shape other’s perceptions of them. For years, I was bullied for the way that my mind operated and I bet you dollars to donuts that not a single bully could identify a direct reason why they chose to bully me that was not rooted in fear of otherness. It’s fear of otherness that exists with the autistic community, and the only way to change is to wade forward through those uncomfortable feelings, through the pain.
I have a heightened obligation to do good, to advocate for neurodiverse people like myself.
My bullies treated me as something to fear, while never giving me the opportunity to change, grow or evolve. This proves that those who bully have no desire to see change, they just want others to continue to exist in a heightened sense of fear and anxiety. It’s all about control. If you see something you’re afraid of, it’s easier to attempt to control it than it is to allow that person to show you who they are.
I refuse to live in fear any longer about who I am, and I absolutely refuse to allow my perception of myself to be written by my bullies. I also urge other neurodiverse individuals to begin working with their therapists to unpack how our bullies’ personas impact our healing and how we see ourselves.
I am a creative, and my ideas are brimming with potential.
When my fiance first met me, the thing that stood out to him and immediately made him curious about the beautiful new girl he met was how many ideas flowed out of me. I’ve always been idea driven, and have often helped others change their mindsets through conversations and brainstorming solutions. I’ve been able to give new insights at work, with friends, and at networking events often at the drop of a hat. Most of these ideas have been for entreprenurial ideas that range from a decoy game app domestic violence victims can use to alert the police to their location without partner’s noticing to ride share for domestic violence survivors, or accessible film gear for disabled cinematographers. There are so many ideas, but we all still only have 24 hours in a day.
What’s next, young Padawan?
As I continue to grow as an autist, writer, and partner I feel like I am a Padawan learning to be a Jedi. I am almost 100% certain that Jedis were inspired, in part, by those like me who process the world differently than those around them.
What’s next, you ask? Unlearning all the shame from my past, especially the shame from things well outside of my control and reclaiming every aspect of the narrative surrounding my creativity, my autism, and my trauma. I’m done letting other people’s perceptions, feelings, and reality shape my own.
I shape my reality, I shape my worldview, and I am indeed the master of my own universe.