26 May, 2010

PSA: I suck at everything

So, recently lurker commented and asked me to explain how autism benefits me. I've never claimed that ASD benefits me, so I'm wondering why someone would ask this. Maybe they're really asking something else. But first, a rundown!

I'm Not Special, You Guys

1. ACADEMICS! I'm not failing out of college (yet) and I have an average IQ. In terms of college I succeed in spite of ASD, not because of it; I have to fight myself every step of the way to keep my head above water. And, if you were wondering, I don't do extremely well. I guess my IQ is an ASD IQ since there is a 20-to-40-point gap between my verbal and performance IQs? But it's not really an "aptitude" since it's a pretty normal IQ.

2. WRITING AND MUSIC! Admittedly I am a good singer and I'm good at writing music and prose. Part of the singing (not being tone-deaf and having a nice color) is just like being white or having long fingers. But obviously I've developed a style and I am precise and this is from intense interest and practice. My writing ability is from intensity too.

I think you could make an argument that these things come from ASD, since people with ASD are more likely to get deeply absorbed in things. I'm sort of reluctant to concede this because many people who don't have ASD can become deeply absorbed in things as well. I certainly wasn't born with writing ability the way I was born stimmy, or something like that.

3. FEELINGS! Even though I don't write because I have ASD, I do experience a pull towards writing that is like the pull I feel towards counting change. I'd characterize that feeling, and the satisfaction in putting things cleanly together and moving through them again (reading or playing) as an ASD feeling. This doesn't objectively benefit me at all and probably makes me write slower and linger over things that are done. However, I enjoy it a lot.

Something else subjective: I usually don't refer to myself as having synesthesia since that seems to imply something more hardcore than what I experience. But color hits me hard emotionally, and sound is accessible as visual information (not bright colors; the important thing is the shade, pattern, and edges), sometimes to an overpowering and shiveringly beautiful degree. This, and a certain stiffness and shakiness that comes out of prayer and a few other things, is my primary relationship to God. This strikes me as a DD, if not specifically ASD, sensitivity, and it's one I'm very grateful for.


Even though I love shivering and colors a lot, I don't really think they can be related to my "functioning level" or be related to whether anyone is mildly or severely affected. They are just feelings and they don't help me look after myself or produce anything. And they are the only part of my ASD that I think is good. This has always been the case. I have never made a post claiming that ASD "benefits" me.

Therefore, I don't really understand why lurker would come on here and ask me how ASD benefits me. It's kind of like if someone came up to me and asked how I liked living on Mars. I don't know what to say because the question appears to be directed at someone who is not me.

Obviously I cannot explain his reasons and maybe he will be willing to do so, but I have a theory of my own. Several months ago I wrote a post called ASD Savants/Disability Redemption in which I suggested that ASD people are expected to prove ourselves really skilled at something (and/or "not really disabled") in order to be viewed as valuable human beings. Maybe if someone has been exposed to a lot of disability-redemption rhetoric, they are so used to the equation skill=valuable=life is worth living that as soon as they hear someone with ASD claiming life is worth living, they just fill in the skill part automatically and imagine it's there.

Well, okay, public statement: ASD doesn't provide me with any skills. And...I really love being alive.


  1. I know how you feel. It annoys me when people expect me to be a genius or a savant because of my Aspergers. Like every adult that meets me expects me to be a highly studious straight-A student. I only study things that interest me. Throughout my K-12 career, the academics have been forced upon me against my interest, and have left me minimal time to pursue my passions. Therefore, I have BSed my way though, managing to pull off straight Bs at the end, but my grades often go up and down like a roller-coaster. Even though I excel at most maths and sciences, I dislike the class structures, and I simply do not like studying because I have to. Tutoring does not help much, because I am not even motivated to put 100% effort into school. I do not care about being perfect, I just want to be good enough. How some aspies get above 4.0 without ever studying, is beyond me.

    I consider myself to be a decent artist, but not an exceptional one. I go to an arts high school and beforehand, I arrogantly thought my art profoundly stood out. But after seeing what many of my peers could do at this school, there was no way that I would win an award for being the most talented student. I do not think my art would have been any better or worse without my ASD, however, it certainly would not be the same. So I do give some credit to my condition.

  2. "I do not think my art would have been any better or worse without my ASD, however, it certainly would not be the same."

    yeah, exactly.

    I don't know, I like your cat things (tabises? tabii?).

  3. Thanks! Yep, they are tabises.