Autism Fact: About 1% of the world population has autism.
(Due to the preference of the majority of people on the #ActuallyAutistic tag on Twitter, in this post I will use the term autistic as a descriptor at times and not use entirely on ‘person first’ language. This is an informed choice based on the majority of feedback I’ve seen from #ActuallyAutistic people.)
There are all kinds of assumptions about what a person with autism or on the autism spectrum is like. The reality is that there are many ways for an autistic person to “be”. Some are excellent with numbers, math, and logic problems. Some, like RJ Scott’s awesome son, Matt, are very, very, very into ceiling fans. Some are artists. Some are musicians. Some are quiet. Some are talkative.
I live every day with a man on the autism spectrum. My husband has never been formally diagnosed, being of an age slightly before the “Asperger Syndrome” diagnosis became a thing, but I have no doubt that had he grown up only five or seven years later than he did, he’d have been diagnosed as a child. Most people who interact with him would never put him on the spectrum, though to those who do diagnose such things, he is immediately and obviously so. Still, if I had a dime for the number of times I’ve been told, “No, he can’t be on the spectrum. He has a job.” Or, “He can’t be on the spectrum because he obviously loves you very much.” As though people on the spectrum aren’t able to feel love?
My husband is an artist and a musician. He’s an audiophile who is obsessed (and I mean spectrum-level obsessed, y’all) with vintage audio equipment. He’s brilliant with one liners that will stun the person who thinks that just because he’s quiet or can’t talk about football, then he has nothing to bring to the conversation. He is the king of deadpan humor, but he has a very hard time making facial expressions that are socially appropriate, or responding earnestly and with interest to common communication themes. However, if you ask him a simple question about his audio equipment, well, be prepared for a very long (probably quite boring) info dump about the difference in recording quality between cassette tape and CDs.
He hates change.
He loves to travel–so long as he’s with me and can trust that I have it all under control.
He hates sports.
He loves music passionately. But specifically. 🙂
There are so many ways to be an autistic person, or to land anywhere on the autism spectrum. And each of these people have something unique to offer the world, a passion or a love that we can’t always appreciate to the same level, but reminds us that human beings are fascinating creatures with interests of all kinds. And that only human beings truly share these kinds of interests and passions. As far as we know, giraffes and elephants aren’t spending hours of their day analyzing the sound quality offered by cassette tape versus vinyl. Or studying ceiling fans. Or memorizing musical quotes to pull out at just the perfect moment to express a feeling or to sum up a situation. So beautifully, diversely human!
In my serial, Will & Patrick Wake Up Married, I was inspired by my husband to write a highly-functional, deeply loving person on the autism spectrum. The kind of man, like my husband, that most people don’t peg immediately as being on the spectrum, but who behaves in ways that don’t always line up with what society expects. Sometimes that’s funny. And sometimes it’s heartbreaking. But it’s always beautifully human.
CONTEST FOR THE AUTISM BLOG HOP!!!!
A $5 Amazon gift certificate and a copy of the first three episodes of Will & Patrick Wake Up Married. CLICK THROUGH and leave a comment on this Facebook post in order to be considered for the contest. I will choose a winner on May 1, 2018.