They are non-conformists. People on the spectrum often have very specific interests they develop on their own without influence or pressure from society! This is noticeable when you see them being fascinated by the mechanisms of something or fascinated by a colourful painting, scanning every single detail on it when others may just glance past without giving that painting much notice. With that, they are also a lot more detail-oriented and observant, especially when it comes to things that are of their interest.
Moreover, because of their very specific interests and focus on something, they are naturally able to develop related skills and strengths if nurtured in the right direction! A common talent is an artistic flair, since art involves details, passion and sometimes artistic expressions that are abstract. Don’t be afraid if your child is showing excess interest in something, it is natural. Make sure that this interest does not develop into rigidity or obsession by exposing him to a wide range of things that might also spark his interest, and as long as you take notice of that, having a passion is a brilliant thing. This can be used to motivate them, to drive their curiosity to learn and venture more into what this world has to offer. For instance, a child with an interest in lines/ shapes can be nudged to learn more with fonts and patterns sequences. It is surely less common to see neurotypicals function with such tenacity in chasing their interests.
Individuals with autism also tend to live in the moment more than neurotypicals do. This is a result of their heightened sensory awareness. Have you ever tried mindfulness meditation, where you put in the extra effort to attend to minute sensory details? From the sound of the fan whirring, the textures your body is in contact with, the posture of your back to the exact position of your limbs. Neurotypicals like us may have to consciously tell themselves to take notice of these, but people on the spectrum do not! While the disadvantage is that they experience a sensory overload, learning to overcome it would be a big win because they will be able to live in a state of active, intentional awareness of the present, which has been proven to have positive effects on well-being.
Additionally, although authenticity and truthfulness may not be as common in this world today, you can always count on a person with autism to be genuine and forthright with you. Because people on the spectrum lie a lot less than an average person, you can be pretty sure that they aren’t hiding things from you or have something up their sleeves against you! That is, in fact, a super important quality of a good friend. You’ll be able to confide in them knowing that they have no hidden agendas, and less probability of them beating about the bush.
People on the spectrum are way less superficial, and look past worldly judgement of others. Instead of caring too much about material things like money, status, level of education, they are a lot less sensitive about such things and you can be pretty sure they want to get to know you for who you are without prejudice. How great would it be if the world placed greater emphasis on a person’s behaviour and less notice of superficial qualities? If a person with autism shows no interest in you, they just won’t approach you. If they do, you will probably be aware of it and know that it is not for any other secondary motives.
Finally, people with autism usually wear their heart on their sleeve. Whatever they are feeling, it will be visible from their facial expressions! This is less prominent in younger children but is something you might notice if you have interacted with youth with autism. They are one of the most honest people and also the ones that tell you their feelings straight up if they’re upset about something rather than bottle it up or bear grudges.
For myself, I definitely know that I like meeting people who are genuine and naturally avoid those whom I feel might have other motives behind their actions. Thus, when you meet an individual with autism, notice all these positive traits they have. You will soon realise that they possess many important qualities we can learn from.
Written by Claudie