Thursday, December 1, 2011

Autism as an Advantage

It is a basic principle of physics that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  While autism has many costs, there are also many benefits that are exclusive to those who are on the spectrum. These benefits take some effort to find, only through the trials that must happen in adjusting to an unnatural world.  Once stability has occurred, those with autism can move forward to possibly change the world, under the right conditions.

For example, for as long as I can remember, I have been able to "watch" movies in my head.  I use the word "watch" as a term to try to relate the sensation.  In reality, there is more listening involved than watching.  The sounds and words of a movie play back in my mind as occasional images from the film in question flickers across my mind's eye to accompany the sounds.  The "playback" is not always coherent.  Lines and sounds from a movie or song repeat over and over in my mind.  It can be annoying because I can't always get a repeated passage from a book or the line of a song to stop in my mind.  I have recently become aware that there are subconscious motives at work that determine what sounds are present in my conscious mind. The time when I could watch an entire movie in my head is long past.  I have too much on my mind these days to concentrate that hard for that long.

My "playback" is impacted by external factors.  If someone talks to me, the playback immediately stops and I focus instead on the conversation. Almost always, I can begin a playback again at nearly the same spot.  I used to believe that it was sound related, but I can also memorize portions of books. Primarily, these are specific phrases that hold significance in my mind.  So, it is not audio related, as I believed for the longest time.  It is more about the effort involved to implant something in my mind that means something to me.  No one wants to play "Star Wars Trivial Pursuit" with me because I know all six movies word-for-word.

You might think, well this is kind of cool, but what practical uses does possessing an ability, such as this, have in the working world?  Remember that I am not only a blogger but I write fiction as well.  I am working on a multi-part fantasy series.  When writing fiction, having the ability to recall movies, to recombine different elements into a new cohesive whole, the advantage becomes clear.  For the longest time autism held me back, now it just might make me into a famous writer.  How is that for a paradox?

Think about your children with autism, or those with autism whom you have been exposed to.  What do you think their special talent is?  Do you think that they can playback movies, songs, books in their head or do you think it is something else?  We are all gifted individuals with our own special talents and part to play in the world.  I believe in destiny.  Through my experience, it is difficult to grow up with autism and not believe in destiny.  Through all my trials, I believed that there were good times waiting for me just around the corner.  

And I was right

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your insight. I teach children who are on the spectrum and this helped me understand a little better, what they might mean when they say " I watching a movie in my head." They are between the ages of 10-12 and I enjoy hearing them explain how their brains are wired :) sometimes it is hard for me to relate though, because I don't experience the world in the same way they do, but together we share and try to understand each other as best as we can.