Does Autism Give You Superpowers?

So much of what is written about Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) is coined in the negative language of difficulties, deficits, impairments, delays, etc. Even descriptions of ASC traits focus on words such as inflexible, rigid, etc. It’s not surprising that people with ASC can end up viewing themselves through this skewed lens.

There is now an increasing movement, supported by research, that demonstrates that individuals who are neurodiverse, a term that encompasses those who “think differently” that includes autism, have particular strengths and abilities.

Dr Helen Taylor of Cambridge University, explains: “The Evolution of Complementary Cognition explains that our ancestors evolved to specialise in different, but complementary ways of processing information, that work together as what’s called a complex adaptive system – a kind of collective brain. “The reason we evolved different ways of processing information, is because it increased productivity, our ability to adapt to change and our ability to survive.”

People with ASC often have many potential strengths, although we must be careful not to generalise as everyone is an individual. There is, however, consistency around many of these strengths.

Passionate about interests
Individuals can be passionate about subjects that interest them. This passion for the subject often leads to a deep understanding of the subject far deeper than others may have. It’s no wonder that many of our great thinkers are on the spectrum. People often think that interests may be very limited, but this isn’t necessarily the case, individuals may have a variety of interests and the ability to hyper-focus on these interests.

This often means that individuals are tenacious and determined. Where others would give up people with ASC will follow through on things that interest them meaning that they can achieve great success as they don’t give up easily or worry about being “uncool”.

Honest
If you want an honest opinion then this is where you’ll find it. In today’s world of “smoke and mirrors,” honesty is invaluable. Working with someone who is straightforward is extremely refreshing. Although sometimes this directness may be perceived as being blunt, there is no intention to hurt another person’s feelings or manipulate or bully, again refreshing. Cutting through some of the daily communications nonsense that we all endure, when all we really want and need is a straightforward answer from someone who is loyal and without a hidden agenda.

Different ways of processing information
This is at the heart of what neurodiversity means. Processing information differently, taking a different view, seeing things from a different perspective are all invaluable attributes. Without these abilities, we would likely never see many new innovations or make big breakthroughs with things. For some people with ASC they have a great ability to visualise concepts and ideas leading them to solve problems faster.

Another but related positive is the ability to focus on detail. Whilst coming up with great ideas is helpful, these aren’t going to be of much use unless someone can focus on the detail to make sure that everything is considered. They may notice a pattern to information and have the ability to analyse it. This ability to focus on detail is an invaluable skill and ability.

This focus on detail may also mean that they identify the nuances and beauty in the things that surround them. They attend to the detail of not just the task but what surrounds it and them as well.

Some people with ASC also enjoy routines. This can mean that they are highly effective and efficient at carrying out tasks. Combine this with attention to detail and there are lots of areas of life and work where this is a great combination.

Good Memory
Whilst there are many myths and misrepresentations around this it can be the case that people with ASC have great memories for facts. This is particularly the case for subjects that are of particular interest.

It is interesting to consider these potential skills and abilities, yet if were to re-phrase them in negative terms such as obsessive, rigid, lacking social skills we might still be describing the same things. Language is important it can help us to value individuals, but it can also cause us to label and devalue those same skills and ultimately the individual who possesses them. Ultimately it depends on from which end of the telescope you are viewing them along with the environment in which the individual finds themselves. One thing is certain, and that is, valuing and nurturing skills and abilities is far more likely to lead to success and happiness.

Here at I AM we treat everyone as an individual. We know, understand, recognise, value and nurture these skills and abilities. We create environments where individuals can shine and be themselves.

For more information about what we do contact admin@i-am-autism.org.uk or give us a call on 0161 866 8483

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