I recently read this beautiful post by a young autistic woman named Emily, in which she talks about the joy and vibrancy of autism.
“I see the world in all its vibrance. I am uplifted at once by the sound of birds. The feeling of the sun on my skin makes me feel so warm. I’m sure I see more shades of green than other people. I notice those small details that others don’t. My eyes are constantly searching.”Emily
Emily’s post inspired me to reflect on the things I love about being autistic. Since so much content about autism and neurodiversity is negative or focused on the difficulties and challenges, I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss the good things.
1) Autistic bliss
I’m not sure if “autistic bliss” is an actual term, but I’m often in awe of the beauty around me. I’m often moved to tears by a beautiful song or painting or writing or amazing scene in a film. I experience this almost daily unless I’m very stressed or sick.
Based on non-autistic people’s reactions over the years, I’ve learned that these feelings or sensations are not the norm. They are, however, normal for many autistic people.
Learning a new skill or acquiring new information can also give me this blissful feeling. Which leads me to:
2) Many interests
My interests are all over the place, ranging from literature and history to biology and architecture. I never feel like there’s enough time in the day to pursue all of these topics. Regardless, my focus can be very intense when it comes to my interests, and I derive a lot of pleasure and contentment from repeatedly entering a state of flow.
“Flow is one of life’s highly enjoyable states of being, wrapping us entirely in the present, and helping us be more creative, productive, and happy.”Catherine Moore
Getting into this flow state reduces stress and helps me self-regulate.
3) Deep friendships
Contrary to myths and harmful stereotypes about autism, most autistic people love having friends.
“Autistic people overwhelmingly report that they want friends. And they have shown that they can and do form friendships with both neurotypical and autistic peers.”Lydia Denworth
I tend to have a few close friends with whom I’m extremely honest and open. In other words, my friendships tend to be very intimate. Since my connection with my friends is quite deep, I tend to get a lot more out of my friendships than others might.
Most of my friends are neurodiverse (autistic, ADHD, or Tourette’s, etc.) — either diagnosed or considering assessment. Neurodivergent brains tend to attract each other (whether or not they know they are neurodivergent!), and I have found this to be true both in friendships and romantic relationships.
4) Eidetic memory
Another term for eidetic memory is “photographic memory.” This ability has helped me remember facts or information when I need it most. If I look long enough at a page in a Biology textbook, for example, I’m able to see that page in my mind when it comes to answering a question on a test.
My eidetic memory is not perfect, but it often comes in handy. While some non-autistic people have eidetic memory, I’ve heard that it’s more common in autistic people.
5) Attention to detail
At school and at work, my attention to detail has served me well. I tend to notice things that others don’t, and discrepancies stand out to me very clearly — whether it’s an extra space between words on a page or an inefficient process in a workplace. It’s almost like my mind can’t NOT see it.
The best thing about this ability is that I don’t have to try hard, it’s just there! It also forms the basis for effective problem-solving.
In sum, autism makes my life pretty amazing, and I would never want to be rid of it. Yes, there are some very real challenges that often come with autism, such as co-occurring mental and physical health conditions. But, all things considered, I think the benefits outweigh the challenges.