Friday, September 30, 2016

Autistic Superpowers

I'm not talking about drawing detailed city landscapes from memory or counting cards. And I can assure you that if you toss an open box of toothpicks at my feet the only response you'll get is,"Hope like hell you plan on picking those up."
Spoiler: We're not all Rainman.

No, I'm talking about the traits we have that make us stand out from the crowd. Like our strong sense of justice. Many of us become disability activists because of this trait but it applies to all areas of our lives. This is often intertwined with our tendency toward black and white thinking which means we are the ones who will do what we believe is right regardless of any consequences for ourselves.

Most of the people I interact with online on a daily basis are not autistic and I am often fascinated by the 'go along to get along' mentality I see displayed. I'm not saying this to pick on anyone, as it seems to be a conditioned response to our society so I'm sure many aren't even consciously aware that they are doing it. The autistic mind looks at a situation and if it offends their sense of justice will say,"This is wrong. I simply can't go along with it.", and respond accordingly, whereas a non-autistic person appears to say,"This is wrong but if I don't go along with it other people may get upset or not like me anymore so I'll just stay quiet."
(And not just appears - I have literally had people say things like that to me.) Another common thing I see is,"I see them being mean to other people but they've never done anything to me so they're good people."  Whether it's a friend talking about a personal acquaintance or a random white person talking about the police I see this numerous times a day online. I can't even wrap my mind around that one.

We're told we lack 'social skills' and are pressured to play along but just because something is 'normal' doesn't make it right. Our society is being torn apart right now by fear and prejudice and hatred but those who stand up (or kneel) to speak out against it are mocked or outright vilified. I am often frustrated by the sense that bad behavior will always continue because there are not enough people speaking out. As long as there are no consequences there is no reason to change the status quo.

I appreciate my brain even when it makes me 'unpopular'. I sleep easy at night knowing that I am true to myself and my convictions and, honestly, it really doesn't bother me if people I wouldn't want to associate with anyway don't like me. Perhaps that should be added to the list of Autistic Superpowers, as well.

It's like Winston Churchill said,
"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something in your life."

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