So much is spoken about supporting Autistic people at home, at school and in the workplace. This is wonderful. Autistic people have made world altering, life changing and community saving contributions to our world. This is often unknown or unnoticed. I knew a man who found a glitch in a code that saved a company millions of pounds and thousands of jobs. Most of the people he saved never even knew.
I thought for today, it would be interesting to hear from a well-supported Autistic person. This is a young man entering college who has been given the support he needs to show up at his best. These are his words (he had the opportunity to edit). I hope you enjoy this interview and a glimpse into the world of an Autistic teenager. I would like to give a bit of a head’s up to neurotypical people who do not know Autistic people. He may sound blunt. That’s because he is. This is not the same as rude. It’s just his language and we make no apologies.
How do you feel about being interviewed about Autism?
Honestly, a little weird. I don’t know what every Autistic person’s life is like. So, I can only talk about my Autism. But, if you want to know about it, that’s fine. Lots of people have dumb ideas about Autism so at least the people reading this want to learn better.
What do you feel is the biggest misconception about people with Autism?
There are a bunch. We are not all nonverbal or that Rain Man guy or Sheldon from Big Bang. I mean, I know I am like Sheldon, but my friends are not. I also hate it when people say I don’t have empathy. It makes me seem like a sociopath. I have all of the feelings. I know you have all of the feelings. I just don’t need to show it on my face and I don’t always see it on your face. I care if you feel bad or I hurt your feelings. I care if you hurt mine, too. Also, I don’t like it when people say I “suffer” with Autism. I don’t suffer from my existence. I suffer from their stupidity and need to make me like them.
What’s one of the things people think you need that you don’t?
Growing up, people were always so concerned with how many friends I had. I don’t know the number I am supposed to have to be normal, but it was never enough for some teachers. I don’t want a lot of friends. I want at most around 5. Friends take energy which is ok, but I won’t have enough energy for the thousands of friends my sister had. It just seems noisy and I don’t like noise. I want people to be cordial and respectful. But, I don’t care if they like me and I don’t want them all to be my friend. I don’t have time for it.
What can Neurotypical People Learn from Autistic People
They could learn to be more logical. So many people care about so many things in the same way they care about their kids. Why? It looks exhausting. People cry about celebrities getting divorced. You don’t even know them and it’s none of your business anyway. They care more about celebrity gossip and Insta followers than about saving the planet or protecting other people from being sick and hungry. There is no logic to this. But I’m the weird one. That’s fine with me.
What makes Autism your superpower?
First of all, I like it being called a superpower. Don’t pity me, tiny humans! But, I can see the fault in things and find a way to fix it. If something I care about doesn’t make sense isn’t working, I will spend as much time as it takes to make it right. It becomes a mission. I can feel it in my body when things are wrong and putting them right makes that feeling change. I see neurotypical people give up way too quickly. They care about so many things that they don’t have the time to get them just right. Because I don’t care about everything at one time, just one thing, I get it done right. I’m also honest. People know what I think if they ask. Neurotypical people aren’t as honest. I don’t get how that is supposed to be nice.
What is one thing you could learn from neurotypical people?
I guess I could learn to change easier. I don’t like a process to change or timings. I can’t change my process as quickly. I can change it. I just need time and I need to understand why it is more logical to do it that way. If I don’t see the whole process, I can’t move. I also would like to know when I have been too blunt. I don’t want people to have hurt feelings. I just answer questions. I would like to answer questions with the truth, but not make people feel uncomfortable.
Any parting words of wisdom?
I would not call my words wisdom, but yes. I don’t speak for everyone who is Autistic. This is how I see things. Autism is a spectrum and not a line. We have many strengths and weaknesses. I may consider a strength what you consider a weakness. I guess, just stop trying to make Autistic look like neurotypical people. It won’t work. It feels bad. And, I don’t want to be like everyone else. Just let me be who I am. Let me know when I cross a line and give me a chance to fix it. And, offer help to people who need it. That applies to everyone, not just Autistic people.