What autism is and what it has taught me

Stephen McHugh
This post was last updated on
August 17, 2022
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Autism is a lifelong complicated condition characterised by the way one views and interacts with the wider world. Somebody with the condition can view the world in an inflexible way, and be interested more in themselves than others. They may also be very gifted at certain things, like for example playing a musical instrument.

Whilst other pastimes will appear uninteresting, others will be very fascinating. Here, in my case, my main fascinations were, and still are, astronomy and music. 

Sensory overloads

There may be sensitivities to certain stimuli, like loud noises for example. This was the case with me at a very young age. I can relate further personal circumstances to other characteristics below.

Autism causes

One thing I think here is that those of us with autism may have brains that are ‘wired’ differently. This is likely linked to genetic mutations which affects how we may turn out. This may lead to differences in the way information is gathered and processed. 

Social awkwardness

You may have a desire to interact with people at social gatherings but be unsure how to fit in, and feel a sense of loneliness. Difficulties with interpreting body language, voice tones, and facial expressions may mean not understanding how a person is feeling, what they’re thinking, and whether they’re joking or being serious.

Behaviours could be unintentionally exhibited that may cause annoyance or offence to others, be seen as odd, leading to one being viewed in a negative light.

Language development delays

Here, there can be issues with understanding and processing language. Literal views of figurative speech can be taken too. Consequently, you may struggle and take longer to work out what it is you’re being asked. This is mainly why it took me longer to achieve marks and grades during my education that I would be pleased with. During my very young years, I was seen as nonverbal for the most part, apart from only saying words when I could say them perfectly.

Special interests

For me, it is having good piano playing ability and a sound faculty for mental arithmetic.  From my experiences you could also have in-depth knowledge about a subject you’re particularly fascinated about, even leading to positive contributions being made to the wider world. Working in conjunction with your interests can have benefits, especially with some degree of support. During my last year in junior school, I was allowed to do my own projects on music and trees. This was different to what the rest of the class did, since it was judged I wouldn’t get much out of whatever it was they were doing.

However, fears of failure can prevent you from pursuing such goals, perhaps linked to a lack of confidence on your part. This may be due to anxiety about how other people might judge you if you make mistakes, or if it is not perfect as far as you’re concerned.

Hope for autism

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Being on the autistic spectrum can leave us feeling like there's no sign of a decent future. But having said that, one important thing it has taught me, and can teach all of us is, never underestimate one’s ability with autism, and never give up hope with autism.

I look upon my limitations as the driving forces behind me in turning them into new strengths. And with new strengths new hopes can arise, breeding new confidence in learning new skills, leading to new interests. 

One new stronger interest of mine is creative writing and reading. This, for me, has led to an improvement in my communication skills, even though I still have some way to go. However, at least I feel I am moving in the right direction. Nobody ever stops learning and improving.

Nature makes us all who we are and what we are. We are all unique and equal in our own right. In my eyes, the colours of the rainbow are indicative of this along with all the challenges and abilities we all possess.

When you want to do something, just simply be yourself. Even with the best works out there in the world, there is always something that could have improved them. If everyone and everything was the same, the world, in my eyes, would be boring. Autism has helped me to accept who, and what I am. And it should teach us to accept everybody for who they are, including, but not limited to, ethnicity.

Mistakes have been, are, and will always be one important fact of life, along with negative feedback about everything in the world. These are other ways that help me to feel better about my personal circumstances. If you make a mistake, try and learn from it, but don't dwell too much on it. 

Constructive criticism is defined by google as the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. This, in my eyes, is a more sensitive way of offering any negative feedback. It appears to balance the negative feedback with positive feedback.

These are two examples above which I feel have given me renewed confidence to do the things I want to do, like putting this blog out into the wider world. 

Where there is great love there are always miracles.

Having a catholic upbringing has enabled me to develop a firm faith in God. Being on the autism spectrum has undoubtedly meant plenty of testing times for me. By having a firm faith in God, I can turn to him for guidance and strength during times like this in moments of calmness. 

My autism and faith in God.

Summary

Having an autistic spectrum disorder(ASD) can bring about limitations linked to language, social development, and the way one interacts with the wider world. This can lead to uncertainty surrounding one’s hopes for the future. But, for me, one thing I’ll reiterate, never underestimate, and never lose hope for those on the autism spectrum.

With the right support network, and by working in conjunction with and supporting one’s special interests, one can challenge themselves, and realistically achieve what they may set out to do. And furthermore, weaknesses can even be turned into new strengths, creating new opportunities. 


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4 comments on “What autism is and what it has taught me”

  1. Hi Stephen
    You are right- love and hope are so important and a lot of people can feel different and experience loneliness. I think you would really enjoy the film : The REAson I jump'. All the best, Christina

    1. Hi Christina, thanks for leaving your message here on this site. The more visitors to this site who feel helped by it in some ways in the future, the better. If you know, or know of anyone who you think may benefit from what's on this site, they'd be very welcome to come and visit it.

    1. No problem Alison. I'm pleased that you see positives in this blog post. Please feel free to share it with anyone who you believe may benefit from it.

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