With all of the extra things that you have to think about when dealing with a person on the autistic spectrum, you might be forgiven for thinking ‘Why bother?’ – and I guess you have a point. On the minus side, people with autism can be a bit withdrawn, we can say stuff and people will look at one another like ‘Did she just really say that?’ We can go on and on and on about our obsessions (Hi, Will) We can bring unwanted attention from people who might think, ‘Why are you even hanging around with this person?’ When you are in high school, one of the last things you probably want is to hang around with the weird kids, right? Heck, I’m not doing such a good job at recommending autistic friends, am I? Well let’s have a stroll to the positive side and see what’s going down.
People with autism (and I for one hate stereotypes more than anyone but this one has a ring of truth) are honest. Honest sometimes to the point of embarrassingly honest, but you get the truth from someone with autism. If my Mum asks me how old she looks after doing loads of weird face exercises and rubbing half a bottle of face cream in, I say you look about 44, nearly 45, because she does. I also tell her that she looks pretty, because 1, that takes the sting out of the age thing, and 2, because I think she does. She is in no doubt as to how old she looks then, because I have told the truth. Also, she gets a ‘pretty’ bonus.
I always tell the truth and hate keeping things from people. It’s like a heavy weight on me if I have a secret. Once its out, it isn’t so bad at all. It’s very hard to find the fine line between keeping confidences and bearing that heavy weight of a secret. As you get older though, you learn these differences.
Anyway, back to autistic people and their good qualities.
Lots of people in school behaved in ways that I didn’t really like. Gossiping about each other, leaving certain people out of the group one week, and then the next week it was someone else’s turn to be unpopular. Making little plans to get back at people, making people embarrassed in public. I hate all of these types of behaviour, I don’t really understand them and again not to stereotype but I think not getting this behaviour is typical of lots of people with autism. All of that social manipulation is another kind of dishonesty, and you don’t get it as much with people with autism.
Choose us! We are great friends. I know lots of people with autism, and it’s not like they all have the same personality or something. My brother is the most memorable person in the world. When we made ‘My Autism and Me’ for BBC Newsround we had hundreds of emails about him. He was the star of the show but I got the EMMY (haha, Lens!) (but then again he wouldn’t have wanted the EMMY anyway, he wouldn’t have seen the significance. Perhaps he might have liked to spin it round on the dining room floor, but he could do that with a pan, or a frisbee) People saw him nesting on top of the tv, and having a great time in his den of bubbles in the bathroom and they loved him, even without him sharing any words, they just knew that he would be a great person to be around. Yes, he’s not a great person to clear up after, but we all have our faults.
I’m thinking about all of my friends with autism now. I’m not going to name them all because this is public and it might not be right, but you know who you are and I love you all. You’ve made my life better and richer. I have friends without autism too, and they are also great. One day I’ll write a blog about my none autistic friends, but for today, I’m celebrating those with asd. 😉