As I go through life I can’t help but observe that a lot of what I’m good at is not typically what the average person is good at. Also, what I’m not good at is not typically what the average person is not good at. Of the former, I’m talking about such things as my innate talents in math and philosophy and academia in general. Of the latter, I’m talking about such things as finding it difficult to make and maintain friendships and having a lack of social intuition. Also, while my autism has contributed much in the way of the weaknesses I don’t think autism is anything more than that. My autism is solely a contributor to my own sets of strengths and weaknesses and most of all to my own individuality. I don’t view it as a disability.
Let me elaborate. While I certainly think autistic people do need help with certain life tasks that non-autistic people won’t need help with, I don’t think this is any reason to view autistics as being any more deficient than the rest of us. It is only a different way of being and thinking. The problem lies in the fact that autistics are in the minority and so the world isn’t properly designed for them. In other words, autistics really only need help because they aren’t designed for the world as it is and not because of any intrinsic characteristic. If the majority of us were autistic, I think the world would be a rather different place. For example, social norms would be different. You’d probably be expected to talk in a straightforward literal sense with no chitchat or talking simply for the sake of talking. Conversations would have more logic involved and go about three times as slowly. Face-to-face communication wouldn’t involve body language or at least body language that wasn’t explained by what you say. Loud crowds of people at places would be a lot less common. In such a world, those who weren’t autistic would be the outliers and hence they would be the ones who would be labeled as having a disability, not the autistics.
If you think I’m somewhat too extreme in my view here, feel free to comment. It’s just my personal philosophy. I’m no psychologist, but I think the above explanation as to why we label people autistic would apply to a number of autistics, maybe depending on how severely affected one was with it.
There are a number of autistics, however, who have many admirable talents, such as me, and if an autistic individual has a talent that is quite admirable and rare as to be called a gift, they are called an autistic savant. Of course, there have been a number of famous individuals throughout history who while they had great gifts, they lacked a lot of everyday skills that the majority of people seemed to have. Albert Einstein, for instance, was one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, but he couldn’t tie his shoes and had difficulty in leaning to talk as a child. What is more, very smart talented people who lack everyday skills has become a fascinating characterization to use in the entertainment world. For example, Sheldon Cooper on the popular T.V. show The Big Bang Theory is a prodigy who’s a gifted physicist, but can’t seem to relate to people in a neurotypical way.
In bringing up the concept of such characterizations I only want to point out that no matter what your strengths are and no matter what your weaknesses are they are natural to you. They are part of what makes you a unique individual. How you compare to the rest of society isn’t nearly as important. What is important is self-acceptance and the acceptance of others. You embrace your strengths and your weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of others. Being open in this manner requires you to drop any preconceived notions you might have about what combinations of strengths and weaknesses are ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’. The concept of what’s normal simply can’t be applied. As my aunt likes to say it would be good if everyone understood that everyone, autistic or not, is odd in their own way. It’s why she likes my poem A Foreign Autistic World so much that I shared in my second post. We’re all ‘a little queer’.
Yes, I suppose I do fit the characterization of the stereotypical introverted mathematician with no social skills at least a little bit, which I think is fun to joke around a bit, but you can’t lose sight of the big picture. I’m human with my own sets of strengths and weaknesses, which come natural to me regardless of whether anyone thinks them normal or weird to have. In this way being autistic isn’t a disadvantage. It’s a blessing.