As I was sitting at my kitchen table thinking about what to write, it occurred to me that not everyone really understands what autism is. I mean, to be totally honest, I didn’t, or at least not fully, until I heard some friends talking about it. So, I figured since you have somehow found your way to my blog and are reading this post, you might want to know too.
One disclaimer before I get started, and it’s one of my favorite sayings, is if you met one person with autism, then you’ve met one person with autism. In other words, while myself and fellow autistics do have a lot of traits in common, we are all individuals and what is a struggle for one person with autism may be quite easy for someone else, just like neurotypicals (a fancy word for someone who doesn’t have a neurological disability like autism).
Anyway, since my definition of autism is limited to my personal experience, I looked online to see what I could find as a formal definition, and this one from the CDC really resonated with me.
“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.” (CDC)
So, what are the important parts of that? To me, it’s that we do things that are different from other people and that it’s a spectrum. Why are those both important? Glad you asked!
The first thing to remember is the word “different”—not bad or wrong, just different. We often hear about the “right way” to do a particular task, but who’s to say that there is just one or two ways?
For example, most people get a typical 9-5 job, but being in the regular workforce is too much stimulation for me, so I found remote work allowing me to work from home. I am still earning money to support myself, but not in the “traditional” way. Again, different, not wrong.
Also, one thing to remember is that autism is a spectrum, and I fall in a different place on that spectrum than anyone else, struggling with some things while finding others incredibly easy. We’ve all got our challenges, like the CDC definition says, but we are each challenged in areas unique to us. I think that makes sense?
I know this was just a basic rundown of autism, and I plan to go more in-depth on different areas as this blog grows. If you have something you’d like me to write about, please let me know. Thanks for reading!