I’m sure many of us have heard the stories of people with autism who are exceptionally talented at something, for instance, being a math prodigy. In fact, you may have heard of the term ‘savant’, which is often used as a label for such individuals.
Although this is possible, it is not necessarily the case for all of them. Among individuals with autism, some have an exceptional flair for words and letters, and learn to read by picking up bits of knowledge by themselves. As a result, they are often capable of reading at a much earlier age. This is a condition known as hyperlexia. Others may have talents such as an exceptional ability to distinguish tastes due to their heightened senses and their taste buds being more sensitive.
However, in this article, we will not focus on these individuals who have specific talents. Instead, we will focus more on the potential benefits of having some traits which are frequently associated with autism.
Firstly, individuals with autism are often very determined if they are fixated on something. Hence, they may have a deep interest in a subject, for instance dinosaurs or trains. Due to their interest and natural motivation to learn more, the child may be able to remember an impressive number of facts about dinosaurs and have in-depth knowledge about them. Unlike how most children quickly get sick of something, this isn't just a phase for them. This also means they tend to persevere and spend a lot of time on select subjects! Many adults with autism also have extensive knowledge on a topic of their interest, and this has contributed significantly to society, like Charles Darwin, Tim Burton and Steve Jobs. (Read more here: https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisprograms.com/historys-30-most-inspiring-people-on-the-autism-spectrum/)
Secondly, they can be detail-oriented. Attention to detail is very useful in certain areas. Many companies actually look to hire those on the spectrum because of this particular trait! (Read more here: https://medium.com/cxo-magazine/why-more-companies-are-seeking-autistic-workers-9d9dd8914b9) They may be able to spot errors in code a lot better and make less mistakes in subjects such as math. This skill also allows one to learn and advance in areas of interest much quicker than a person with a neurotypical mind. They may also have exceptional memory when it comes to visual data or those involving tiny details.
Thirdly, they thrive on routine, which translates to a disciplined and organised lifestyle. This may be seen as rigidness by some, but if carefully managed, can be a positive trait; they will be dependable with regard to schedules and routines. Although this might be a problem when changes are made to their routine, sufficient time and warnings would help mentally prepare them and reduce their stress levels in adapting. Additionally, giving them a visual schedule can also help them stick to the routine better and reduce their anxiety levels. With that, they may actually find it a lot easier to go about doing tasks everyday when they are used to the routine.
Fourthly, since they think differently from neurotypicals, we can count on them for out-of-the-box and innovative ideas when groomed in the right direction.
And finally, they are also very honest people, and you can expect them to be straightforward with you since it’s not in their nature to sugar-coat something or beat about the bush when expressing themselves! Studies have shown that children on the spectrum have lower ability for deception as compared to neurotypicals ( Read more here:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3482107/). That also means that you should be direct and truthful with them. A person on the spectrum even expressed her surprise and confusion upon gradually discovering that people don’t always mean what they say! Despite the fact that the capacity to deceive may be used as an indicator of development when a child is young, we should understand that adults on the spectrum may be very honest and do not feel the need to lie even if neurotypicals might when put in the same social situation.
In conclusion, being a little autistic could actually translate to having certain personality traits that may benefit us. Carefully cultivated in the right direction, for instance, using it to regulate one’s lifestyle rather than create rigidity, one could potentially benefit from such traits!
Written by Claudie.