I think it is important to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses. When we know our strengths we can focus on those and hone in on them and bring them out even further so that we shine like a bright star. And, knowledge of our weaknesses allows us to find ways to make it less noticeable that we have such a weaknesses or in some cases even overcome that weakness. I am going to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of autism as it primarily relates to me. But, I will also delve into other common aspects of autism and discuss how they can be seen as strengths and weaknesses for other people on the spectrum. Hopefully, after reading this entry, people on the spectrum will have a deeper understanding of themselves. And, hopefully this understanding might someday lead to living a more enriching life.
One of my biggest strengths and what is also a big strength for many with autism is Perseverance. A lot of us are very stubborn and just won't give up or let go. For me, I have learned how to let go of many things that I realize are futile to hold onto, but at the same time, I also don't give up on my dreams. Had I given up on my dreams, I would have never completed my memoir which someday I believe you will have the honor of reading. We just need to get it published first.
Overall, our perseverance allows us to achieve amazing things. I believe Thomas Edison was on the autism spectrum. According to what I've been taught, he spent 1000 tries attempting to create the light bulb and never gave up. Where would our world be today had he not made this invention. Where would the aviation industry be without Howard Hughes, another person I believe to have been on the autism spectrum? Would the assembly line even exist had Henry Ford not come along? Would most of us even drive cars? Perseverance allowed these famous people to make extraordinary accomplishments.
But, perseverance can also be a weakness for many of us on the spectrum because we don't know when to give up. Sometimes, we don't know when to stop talking about something. Sometimes, we don't know when to stop calling a girl (and some of us end up getting restraining due to our perseverance). Sometimes, we don't know how to break a habit until its too late. I was once a huge Star Wars collector, and I would have rather starved than to have gone without the latest Star Wars toy. My perseverance forced me to become a super collector.
So, sometimes, if we are not careful, our perseverance can end up taking our lives in a very negative direction and because of not wanting to let go, it can end up that no one and nothing can prevent us from going down a path that is harmful to us.
Which leads me to next strength which is also a weakness at the same time. Obsessions. A lot of us on the spectrum can get very obsessed over things. This can be a good thing because it can lead to great productivity and allow us to focus on tasks without getting bored. We are so obsessed with certain things we are perfectionists which is also a good thing, especially in a career where perfectionism is important such as engineering or working for NASA.
But, obsessions also have the power to overtake our lives. This happened for me with Star Wars. I had obsession in the past but nothing as intense as Star Wars. I was on the Internet 24/7 looking for information, going to stores and spending my parents money on toys, and pretty much living and breathing anything Star Wars. Star Wars was all I talked about. Star Wars was how I experienced the world. Everything that happened in my life I could relate to something that happened in the Star Wars movies. Star Wars was my bible.
And, for some people with autism we can take this one thing that we can enjoy and blow it up and make it bigger than ourselves until we become that thing. I was Star Wars. That was how people identified me by. They did not know me for the Arman underneath Star Was. They saw my massive Star Wars collection and they knew that was who I was. That was who I wanted to be. I was nothing beyond Star Wars. I would have been insulted had anyone suggested otherwise. And, there are those on the spectrum who did find that one interest and blow it up to epic proportions and we become proud of our obsession. There is one person on the autism spectrum who created a character called Sonichu and from what I can gather he took his obsession of Sonic and Pokemon and turned them into something else. And, that something else seems to have taken over that person's life.
So, obsession have the power to control us and take over our lives. Sometimes, this can be a good thing if it is applied to a constructive outlet (even better if that outlet brings an income) but other times our obsessions can lead to a destructive outlet. Destructive in the sense we get buried in our obsessions and in some cases become burdens for those around us both mental, financial and other wise. I know I was a huge financial burden on my parents when I was really into Star Wars.
And, I am going to end on one last strength and one last weakness. These are just the tip of the ice berg, but I don't want to spend forever writing this entry.
So, another strength for those of us on the spectrum is our capacity to love. I believe that many of us on the spectrum have big hearts, but we just express this love in an unique manner. I also believe that many of us are able to experience a very pure and unconditional love. For many of us, we don't understand the social games that go into relationships, and for that reason a lot of us connect with animals. We feel much love towards animals and are able to form a deep connection with them. But, we also have the ability to feel much love towards our human counter parts as well. But, that can be a challenge because the whole socializing thing seems like a confusing tangled mess to us.
Which leads me to the final weakness of autism that I will discuss today which is our ability to socialize. Almost all of us don't get how to socialize. And, those of us who do somewhat get the whole social thing, had to work very hard to gain that understanding. I know I sure had to work hard at it. For some, we don't have a desire to bond with other people and for others of us that desire is very strong. Lately, I ask myself why do people desire to feel connected and expected by other people. I see that as wasteful. Why do we give so much power to these external influences? Why is it so important for parents that their child have friends. There are some friends that ask other people to do things that can be harmful such as drugs or to do some stupid thing. And, if we don't, we are disowned. And, regardless we spend a lot of resources trying to impress other people such as cars, clothes, etc. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of decisions made seem to be entirely for social reasons. What gives? Anyway, it is perceived that not being able to socialize is a weakness. A very big weakness. Especially in a society that prides itself on social success. I do understand the importance of being able to socialize so one can get a job and survive. I guess the truth is that we need to be able to learn to socialize. The world moves forward by social decisions. The more socially skilled someone is, the more likely they will be successful in life.
Okay, that last paragraph was probably a bit botched up. But, anyway, these were the strengths and weaknesses that I desired to discuss today.
I wish you a most awesome day of awesomeness.