50 important facts about having mild autism by Captain Quirk

Here’s a copy of the link where captain quirk did the post

Asperger Syndrome: 50 important facts about having mild autism | Autistic, Not Weird

http://autisticnotweird.com/2015/04/09/asperger-syndrome-50-facts-about-having-mild-autism/

On April 2nd this year, World Autism Awareness Day, I decided to offer a little insight to some of my Facebook friends. Their responses were actually what inspired me to start this blog in the first place.

I hope this helps people who are curious.

Fifty Important Facts About Having Mild Autism:

1) The rest of you are weird. We are completely normal.

2) You definitely know a few autistic people. Maybe you don’t know it, but you do. Maybe they don’t know it either. We’re 1% of the general population, which is higher than it sounds.

3) Autistic people aren’t always similar to one another, for exactly the same reason that non-autistic people aren’t either.

4) 81% of us aren’t in full-time employment. Personally I’ve spent less than two years of my life being one of the 19%.

5) If you have it mildly, you’re at the awkward midpoint of being ‘normal enough’ for everyone to expect the same from you as everyone else, but ‘autistic enough’ to not always reach those expectations.

6) The above means that a LOT of things are Your Fault. They’re not actually your fault, but they are definitely Your Fault.

7) If you don’t notice that a girl is interested in you, it’s Your Fault. Not theirs for not bothering to actually tell you.

8) If someone drops an extremely subtle hint and it goes over your head, it’s Your Fault. Not theirs for not bothering to actually tell you.

9) If you ask people whether they want the last potato and everyone says ‘no, that’s fine’, it’s Your Fault if you take it. You should have read them correctly and interpreted their ‘no’ as a ‘yes’. Because that’s what normal people do, apparently.

10) We find it difficult to read people, and that’s Our Fault. Meanwhile other people find usdifficult to read, and that’s Our Fault too.

11) 70% of people on the autism spectrum have something else as well (ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, for example). Special needs are often a bit of a Venn diagram.

12) Some people with autism are the nicest, most kind-hearted people you’ll ever meet. Other autistic people are dicks. You know, because we’re people.

13) Telling others about your autism is difficult. Sometimes because they don’t know what autism is (or have clichéd ideas), sometimes because they don’t know you very well so they’ll see you as a walking syndrome, and sometimes because you’re just bloody nervous about talking about it.

14) The correct category for me is ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’ rather than ‘mild autism’. But it’s difficult telling people you have Asperger’s because it ends with the word ‘syndrome’. People are wary of syndromes. I don’t like using the phrase ‘social learning disorder’ either, because it ends with the word ‘disorder’.

15) So if you’re not going to tell people about your autism, the only way not to be seen as awkward or having poor interpersonal skills is to pretend to be like everyone else. And when you fail because that’s not how your brain words, it’s Your Fault.

beyourself

16) Hints don’t work. Just bloody tell us. (Seriously, on my first ever date the girl wanted me to pay for her lunch, so instead of just asking me honestly she hinted that she didn’t have enough money for food and for the bus. I just smiled and said “don’t worry, cheesy chips are only £1.75!” She did not appreciate it, even though it was a valid response to what she had said.)

17) If I do things at my own pace and use my own methods, I invariably succeed. If I go at the pace others tell to go or use someone else’s methods, I can crash and burn rather horribly. Guess whose fault it is when I do?

18) Our spoken grammar is not always up to scratch. I slur my words, and say them in the wrong order when I’m nervous. My last job interview (at a library) failed at the very first sentence when I started with “I think I’m fit for this writer because I’m an aspiring… oh, wait, let me start again.”

19) Eye contact is overrated. People say I act unnatural when I talk to them, but to me it’s unnatural to stare right into someone’s eyeballs just because everyone else is doing it.

20) If we’re taking a long time to phrase something correctly, then bloody let us finish. Sometimes it takes us a while.

21) Some of us (myself included) have a very slightly slower processing speed: it might take us an extra second to realise you’re joking, for example.

22) I always take an extra second or two to start talking, for the above reason. In groups of four or more people I’ve been known to ‘not talk’ for a full fifteen minutes despite always being a split-second away from breathing in to speak before someone else beats me to it. It’s like being interrupted non-stop for fifteen minutes, except people don’t know you want to speak so you’re not allowed to be annoyed with them.

23) The ‘taking things literally’ thing is real. Obviously I know it’s not really raining cats and dogs, but if you say something that’s not an idiom I’ll assume that you mean it.

You'd be amazed how many idioms we say that we think are literal.

You’d be amazed how many idioms we say that we think are literal.

24) We’re great in bed.

25) Just kidding. We have a sense of humour too, you know!

26) Yes, we can be geeks. We excel at it, and enjoy every minute.

27) It’s very easy for autistic people to misread someone’s signals, sometimes resulting in hilarious consequences.

28) Then again, it’s very, VERY easy to accidentally trespass into someone’s comfort zone. I’ve lost a number of valued friends this way, as a teenager and as an adult. It’s a problem we want to cure ourselves of, but just can’t.

29) I’m not convinced that people with autism are naturally more susceptible to anxiety issues (some are, definitely, but so are some non-autistic people). I think the demands of a weird society push anxiety onto them. I had a very happy childhood, and didn’t suffer from anxiety until people started telling me I was socially inferior.

30) Getting two bouts of therapy was NOT My Fault. It was other people’s for making me anxious about not meeting their social expectations, and not being bothered to meet me halfway.

31) Not all of us have the memory thing, but when we have it, boy do we have it. When I was in Year 2 (7 years old) I decided to brainstorm all the dinosaur species I knew from memory. I stopped when I reached 91. (I have a bunch of other examples that will either impress you or freak you out, but I’ve known autistic people- some with real learning difficulties- who can tell you what the day was on April 17th 1962.)

Note- since I originally wrote this I learned the trick for myself. It was a Tuesday, if anyone cares.

32) If you think I’m ignoring you in the occasional conversation, please don’t take it personally. I can only focus for lengths of time on things I find genuinely interesting. (And even now I’m not being rude- I may truly care about you as a person, but not always about the subject at hand. Everyone has to endure conversations they’re not interested in- I’m just the guy who can’t fake interest as convincingly as everyone else. This makes me rude, rather than the people who pull it off and successfully trick you.)

33) It’s easy to trick us as kids. As a child I had no concept of other people lying to me just because they thought it would be funny.

34) I mentioned earlier that autistic people are very different to each other. So please don’t assume after reading this that everyone with mild autism is a geek, or a maths wizard, or can play great chess. Those are my own strengths, and others have strengths that I do not.

35) Those who are further along the spectrum than me can often act up and some can even be aggressive. This is not because they’re nasty- it’s a standard response when the world makes you really anxious and you haven’t yet developed the social skills or coping strategies to deal with it. Counting to ten only works with those who never get so anxious that they can’t count to ten.

36) Asperger’s is sometimes called ‘Wrong Planet Syndrome’, because it often feels like that’s where you were born- on the wrong planet, among a bunch of aliens who don’t function like you do. So when I say that we’re normal and you guys are weird, that really is how it feels!

(See picture credits for a link to this awesome set of cartoons illustrating Asperger's.)

(See picture credits for a link to this awesome set of cartoons illustrating Asperger’s.)

37) Being born on a different planet can feel pretty isolating and lonely. Especially if none of the aliens understand your culture, or even think it’s something to be discouraged, feared or cured.

38) There is no cure, by the way. There may be treatment to help us overcome obstacles, but there’s no cure for autism for the same reason there’s no cure for having a brain at all.

39) Most of us don’t want a cure. Yeah, it’d be nice to have better social skills, but we’d rather not sacrifice the greater part of who we are in order to get them.

40) ← Forty is one of my favourite numbers. It’s in the 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 20 and 40 times tables, which means you can use it for a load of different useful things. I think 60 and 120 are more useful though, and I have a soft spot for 72. And 24, since it’s nearly as useful as 72 but easier to work with.

41) We work better when things are specific. Sounds obvious, but the less margin of error there is the easier things are to do.

You'd be amazed how much searching I did for this one specific cartoon that came to mind. It's only a year younger than me.

You’d be amazed how much searching I did for this one specific cartoon that came to mind. It’s only a year younger than me.

42) Like everybody else, autistic people shine when given the chance to play to their strengths. When the world dares to meet us halfway, we do brilliantly.

43) Personally I’m like a very fast car with very slow acceleration. I’m capable of some great things, but it often takes me a while to get there.

44) Asperger’s did not stop me from getting a maths degree, followed by a teaching degree.

45) Asperger’s did not stop me from becoming a primary school teacher.

46) Asperger’s did not stop me from captaining my local youth group for five years and counting, and being one of the youngest captains in the country (I was 25 when I took over).

47) Hopefully, one day I’ll be saying ‘Asperger’s did not stop me from publishing a book’.

48) People with autism, even in the most severe cases, know how to love and be loved in return. They express it differently, but they mean it.

love

49) Autistic people don’t need awareness. Everyone in Britain has already heard of autism. They need acceptance now.

Since I originally posted this, I’ve had a little change of heart. A friend pointed out that knowing of a condition’s existence and understanding what it means are two totally different kinds of awareness, and she has a good point. Raising that second kind of awareness is one of the reasons behind this blog, and that kind of awareness usually leads to acceptance.

50) In general, autistic people are bloody awesome.

(PS- fifty is an overrated number. Yes, it’s half of 100, whoopty-do. But how do you structure a World Cup with fifty teams?)

I hope this has done a little to inform any non-autistics reading this.

If you are on the spectrum, may I ask how many of these apply to you? How many do not suit you at all? I’d be curious to know how much us guys truly have in common!


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Picture credits (where known):

http://bigspud.co.uk/yet-more-roast-potatoes/

http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=112787 (This whole thread is ingenious- I thoroughly recommend readint eh whole thing.)

http://garfield.dale.ro/garfield-1986-december-13.html

102 thoughts on “50 important facts about having mild autism by Captain Quirk”

  1. This is awesome. It gives me some great insight into the most important people in my life – and helps me know what I can do to “meet them halfway.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Totally loved this, especially #9! That was soooo my supposedly normal family. I used to teach English, and you know what? Your grammar is just about the least important thing about this blog. You are awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, my goodness, David! This is my favorite thing I have read here thus far! It made me smile and it made me cry. So many things here are so familiar to me in respect to my beloved children, as well as my husband who remains undiagnosed officially but told by his mom when she found out he was engaged to a single mom with autistic children that he had every sign but they had resisted the idea of putting a label on him. I don’t write about that too often out of respect to him, but he is beginning to identify more with it and he has certainly seen as a business owner that he is not hindered in this life. 🙂 Anyway…if my kiddos can turn out like you and him, they will be blessed! Whew! Sorry to be longwinded but I got stirred up! Here is a link to my thoughts on the whole awareness matter. https://mrsmariposa2014.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/problematic-pigeonholes/

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Fantastic post! You just described my 18 year old son! He’s going to love this. Especially the funny photo saying “Be yourself, not like that though” – he will find that hilarious and so true. Also the Garfield one – he collected every Garfield comic book when he was in middle school -every single one. Thanks for this helpful and enlightening post! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! 🙂 I can’t claim credit for the “be yourself” picture… some anonymous genius on the internet came up with that. I had a Garfield interest when I was a kid too. I hope your son does enjoy this!
      As always, thanks to David for sharing. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear your radio show!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed reading this, thanks for the insight. I have been pretty sure my husband has Aspergers and this does sound very much like him 🙂 Missing social cues and misreading people is a biggy for him, as is only wanting to discuss what he is interested in…well, the list goes on! He always works but never lasts long which is a problem. He loves like no-one else I have ever met and that’s a good thing, but different 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great work! Informative and fun to read – sadly,such a rare combination that I deeply appreciate it. Two thoughts: 1) I read of a man somewhere who started an employment agency specifically seeking folks with Aspergers for their strengths at certain tasks. 2) I tend to believe in a line of reasoning as follows: in evolutionary terms, traits persist and remain common – 1% is common – if they offer advantages. These days we focus on limitations, but researchers have begun to find cognitive strengths among folks with certain conditions. People with ADHD, for example, as a group have improved peripheral vision and certain forms of pattern recognition. I imagine that if more people took an interest in such research, we’d see far more examples of this kind of thing. In any case, thanks for posting this wonderful piece! – Greg

    P.S. – would you approve my reblogging it? My readers, I think, would appreciate it too – Greg

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have many patients I see who are autistic – I feel like many of them sense things so differently than my other patients, almost like there are so many different layers of sensitivity, like they are paying attention to things the rest of us are not attuned to. I loved your post. So insightful!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. absolutely LOLed at many of these. I am Fionn’s mum. He is autisticandproud,wordpress.com 🙂
    he read a few- then shot off saying “i have things to do.
    but i’ll read it sometime.
    and am going to get him to,
    soooo funny and true.
    Helen

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on autisticandproud and commented:
    It is Helen here.
    David liked one of Fionn’s blogs, i then popped over to see THIS :”50 facts about having mild autism” .
    i genuinely LAUGHED a few times.
    I called Fionn over to read it, and in typical Fionn style he said “i have stuff to do. But i will read it sometime! ” and a throwback as he left the room was “could you skim to the good ones?”…so that attention span makes 51 David…
    but this was VERY familiar 🙂
    great blog.
    H

    Like

  9. Reblogged this on Invisible Autistic and commented:
    I look “mildly autistic” and at first I thought I was. Social interaction seemed fine. I realized the only reason I look that way is because I already had a lot of coping methods in place and my family generally preferred quietness over socializing.

    Put me in a new environment and believe me, I’m going to be obviously autistic.

    Still, no one believes me.

    Yet.

    Like

  10. I can relate in particular to #5, 6 and 39. However, besides #51 (an attention span the size of a postage stamp) I can think of three more items to add to the addendum:

    51) You scare people. Naturally those people expect you to know what it is you’re doing that scares them and what to do to stop scaring them. If you can’t figure out those things without being told, that is all Your Fault.

    52) The behaviors in which you need to learn to engage if other people are ever going to be at their ease and comfortable around you (i.e., smiling, acting super friendly no matter how you feel toward someone, etc.) are so radically different from your true nature that, if you make an all out effort to take up those behaviors they will feel false and unnatural. And if they feel false and unnatural, they will inevitably come across that way too. So no matter what you do or don’t do, there’s no way you can win.

    53) Every time you go to a job interview, you can try your absolute hardest to make a good impression, but no matter how hard you try other people will always be better at it than you. And because other people are better at it, those other people will invariably get all the job offers.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Reblogged this on Sonnolenta… A Neurodivergent Journey and commented:
    I enjoyed this list a lot. I know some of my readers might get prickly about the use of the word “mild” (omg, function labels!) but I’ve been outside of the Autism community long enough that I am able to see past getting up in arms about it (function labels) and just enjoy what is being shared. Besides, having to constantly worry, hem and haw over whether I am using the right words, sharing the right links, or being politically correct Autistic is.. exhausting and does nothing more than deplete my spoon drawer.

    Did you want the last potato? No? OK, great. Ooops. I thought you said I could have it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love #16. Yes, please just tell us. People act like you are asking them to club a baby seal by saying words to what the truth already is. lol Really, it’s SO much easier than passive aggressiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. David I love this post!!! You are so funny and you remind me so much of my son. Obviously you are much further along than he is. He is only 8 years old but I recognize the vast majority of the things that you were talking about. For instance my son likes dates also. About a week ago he told my company that on “Saturday, April 14th Mommy’s computer crashed and she was crying.” Then he started to smile and he goes “It’s not funny? Mommy it’s not funny when you laugh?” He really struggles with laughing at people when they cry and I realize that people do actually look a little crazy when crying. We’re still working on that particular social skill. He also struggles with listening to things that he doesn’t care about. He will just stop people mid-sentence and change the subject. Last one, I promise. He has finally learned to at least look in the general vicinity of the person talking. He hates the eye contact thing too and sometimes I forget that and tell him to “look right in my eyes when I’m talking to you!” Poor kid. I mess up but I work really hard to get it right. I love your blog and I am so glad you are sharing this with the world. It’s encouraging to those of us with children “on the spectrum” with Asperger’s. Thank you so much!!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. One more thing: Congratulations!!! Congratulations on being awesome. Congratulations on becoming a math teacher and continuing to go after your dreams. I know what people tell me about what my son “won’t be able to do” so I can only imagine the obstacles that you have had to overcome and that is awesome!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks a lot, and I really appreciate the kind words you said about my post. 🙂 I hope your son grows up to be the best he can be, and that he overcomes other people’s perceptions of his inability!
      Learning the social stuff is hard (and often nonsensical) but once it’s learned it’s learned. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you. I too have to learn to be literal and straight forward when I talk to him. Otherwise he gets very confused or he’ll keep repeating what I say until I phrase it in a way that makes sense to him. Thanks again. I’m reading your blog now so I can laugh and learn!!😊

        Liked by 2 people

  15. What a fantastic post! As someone who is non-autistic but knew a little bit about it going in, I feel like I have an even better idea of not just how you feel but the way people so very incorrectly perceive you out in the world. By talking about this you’re doing so much to counteract that and like you and your friend said, awareness is the path for acceptance, as is understanding. I can completely relate to the in between thing too. I have a type of muscular dystrophy that is pretty mild as far as MD goes. I don’t have a wheelchair or a cane and my muscles don’t get weaker over time. So people see me walk and think I’m not actually handicapped but because I don’t use a wheelchair or an assistance aid, I don’t really fit in there either. Ok at this point I’m rambling but thanks for following my blog so I was able to find your awesome blog!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Thank you for those 50 facts, thank you for your honesty. My grandson is 10. He was diagnosed at 5. It took 2 more years of reminders before his school finally added it to his I.E.P . He’s awesome, just like you. Thank you for following my blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I really loved this David – especially points 35 & 36 and the interesting number stuff. I’m going to show Mypdagirl who’ll love it too. She and her friends have been sending round on Facebook this: ‘Kids with special needs are not weird or odd – they only want what everyone else wants – to be accepted.’ Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This post is great! I laughed throughout all of it. I have Autism, and can relate to most of what you said. I especially like the picture “just let that sink in.” That is how I picture things when people are talking to me, and I laugh a lot because of it. It certainly makes the world interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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