I don’t usually go along with the crowd and do things, but today people are blogging about the “ausome” parts of autism. But, the Autism Positivity Project seems pretty cool, and worth breaking my own rules for. See more information at the Flashblog’s page.
That’s probably the first ausome thing – sometimes you need the kid to say, “The emperor is naked!” We often see things differently than others do, and are willing to go against the crowd. Supposedly that’s a deficit, but it’s often a strength too. Too often, leaders end up surrounded by “yes men.” Too often bad decisions could be prevented if only someone would say “NO!!!!”
Another ausome thing is our eye for detail (like how, when I saw the “Ausome Things” Flashblog request, the first thing that stood out in a wall of text was the word “Ausome”). Coworkers used to joke at a previous job that they could pour over a computer screen for hours looking for a bug, but that I would see it instantly. That wasn’t quite true, although sometimes seeing the world differently and being focused on details gave me an advantage in finding the problems. In fact, one of the struggles I’ve had at some jobs is convincing people that if I see a problem, there really is a problem. In the networking world, often badly configured networks seem to sort of work, but “sort of” isn’t the same as “working as they are supposed to work.” I can’t always explain why I know something is wrong, but often with networking, I know something is wrong and know what the fix is. Yet, it can be difficult to try to convince a coworker who expects me to notice problems in the same way he does. Sometimes the problem is obvious to me, just clearly evident. But it’s not to others (I’m sure it works the other way plenty of the time too – hence why we need all types of people). But they don’t see me struggling or working to notice it, so they sometimes think my opinion is unfounded or not based on strong evidence, particularly when I spot something wrong after only a few moments with the networking element and they’ve spent days or years working with it. But, over time, coworkers have learned that, yes, when I notice a problem, it really is broken!
My wife’s ausomeness is her ability to visualize assemblies. Whereas I might make a mechanical device by trial and error (“Oh, that didn’t work. Let me try this…”), she has a comprehensive design in her head – and sees the strong points and weak points of the design and how forces will impact it, long before she lays her hands on the raw materials for the device. In fact, this is so natural to her that she’s sometimes confused when I explain that I can’t see what she’s trying to explain. I’ve lost count of the times she’s told me or a mechanically gifted neighbor, “I wouldn’t do it that way…” and we’ve went ahead and ignored her advice – only to discover later, when it’s much harder to fix, that, yes, she was right. We just couldn’t see what she saw instantly!
That’s the last ausomeness I want to write about today: our uniqueness. Not only are autistic people different from non-autistic people, but we’re also different from each other. While my wife has amazing mechanical visualization abilities, I don’t. We’re all different from each other, and that includes the ausome things.