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Autistic Pride

"There's no cure for being yourself", as the saying goes. As the archaic and objectively false notion of autism being a disability (or, Bast forbid, a mental "illness") gives way to the more informed definition of autism as a natural difference in brain-wiring, it's beneficial to take some time to look at the often overlooked positive sides of autism.

I understand that the idea of promoting pride in a certain group of people can trigger a negative knee-jerk reaction in some people, and I wanted to take a moment to elaborate on my rationale for creating this page before going any further.

The UFO section on this website is intended to be an informative (and occasionally humourous) resource for autistics and neurotypicals alike. I have no intention of sugarcoating it: autistic people face a lot of very grave and troubling issues that include highly elevated suicide rates, an unemployment rate of 85% just amongst college-educated autistics, medically sanctioned torture including and ESPECIALLY the horrific so-called "therapy" that is aba, an average mortality age of 36, and the leading autism "charity" being a fascist organisation that openly seeks to eradicate us

In the face of such dire circumstances, I wish to spread some uplifting sentiments for any autistic souls that may visit this page. Autism is a beautiful and perfectly natural neurotype that holds many objective advantages over the default of neurotypicalism. Please know that in spite of what toxic sentiments may have been imposed on you throughout your life, there is nothing wrong with you due to your differences. No more than there is something wrong with a cat because they are not a dog.

For any neurotypicals visiting this page (a very genuine thank you for having the interest to learn more about autism!!), I hope that the information contained herein gives you a more positive and informed view of autism and of any autistic people who you may know. There has been and still continues to be a lamentable amount of misinformation stigmatising autism in all manner of ways, and one can easily become overwhelmed by this and in the process lose sight of the many positive sides of the neurotype.

Regardless of who you might be, I hope that this page sees you off with a more enlightened and optimistic view of autism. Without further ado...

Pro-Tip: Some of the links on this page are to scientific papers that are locked behind a paywall. Look up "Sci-Hub" in your search engine of choice (the website's link changes and I do not want an obsolete link to remain on here) and enter the link to the study on that website if you want to read the full document for free. It's also worth mentioning that many researchers detest the parasitic publishers that make money off of their work, and it can often be possible to obtain a copy of a study for free by politely e-mailing one of the people that created it.

Autistic Pride Symbol Special interests - Anyone who has ever experienced the (mis)fortune (depending on your perspective) of having an autistic person ramble on about one of their special interests like a college professor on meth teaching their favourite course knows just how obsessive we can be about things that interest us. This entire website is essentially a fancier example of just that. Humble as it may be, I have often dedicated entire weekends to obsessively chipping away at putting it together.

We don't just read a book on astrophysics or watch an anime. We read a book on astrophysics and then start going through books, papers, lecture recordings, etc on the subject to learn as much as possible. We watch an anime, then rewatch it, then read the manga, then debate for hours online about it. I've read creepypastas that have caused me to spend weeks or even months ruminating on them afterward.

I suspect a great many autistic people that have attained success, can attribute it to their area of work being their special interest. There is an assortment of great thinkers throughout history that showed strong life-long symptoms of autism, from Charles Darwin to Isaac Newton. One of the most undeniable cases was the classically autistic legendary artist Michelangelo, whose love for art bestowed upon him an unparalleled work ethic that had him continuing to work obsessively on his final sculpture mere days before his death

This all segues very well into my next point...

Autistic Pride Symbol Autistic inertia - Isaac Newton's first law of motion states that an object in motion or at rest, stays that way unless acted upon by an exterior force. This also applies to autistic people. The term autistic inertia is something that was coined in the autistic community to describe the phenomenon of autistic people having great difficulties in both starting activities and ending them.

While this can obviously be a bothersome hindrance in many areas, it can also provide us with an unrelenting work ethic. For instance, I have on quite a few occasions worked 10+ hour shifts without taking a single break and felt no discontent over it. If anything, I would actually be upset if I were forced to take my lunch break because it would disrupt the routine. On far too many occasions to count, I could get so engrossed in working on something at home or at work that I would resist getting up to urinate until it became too painful to bear.

This is a double-edged sword and does not imply that we are workaholics of course. Going on a prolonged break from work emotionally disturbs me, but no more and no less than having to return to work afterward. And while I can easily dedicate an entire day or weekend to chipping away at this website, it is no more difficult to become entrapped into idly listening to music or playing video games for the entire day because I started doing so while drinking my morning tea and never saw fit to stop. Nonetheless, the unique benefits of autistic intertia are undeniable.

Autistic Pride Symbol Ability to be alone - To me, one of the most humourous aspects of the whole coronavirus pandemic was the widespread hysteria among (primarily) extroverted neurotypicals indignant over not being able to attend social events for a brief period of time. It was a fascinating spectacle to observe people becoming suicidal and screeching that they're incapable of surviving a lifestyle that I have spent decades of my life willingly living.

While not all autistic people are introverted, it is suspected that there exists a major link between autism and introversion. Moreover, the ostracisation that virtually every autistic person experiences during their formative years ensures that most of us develop the inner strength to become completely unbothered by even prolonged aloneness.

If anything, some of us (guilty) become the exact opposite of the aforementioned hyper-social neurotypical, and view most social interactions to be nuisances that are best avoided. Indeed, for many of us, the symptoms of schizoid, a "disorder" characterised by a strong desire for solitude and lack of interest in any and all relationships, sound very relateable.

That is not to say that autistics are all antisocial loners, or that such a thing is innately positive. Even for the more antisocial types such as myself, we can be quite warm and even gregarious with the few people who we are very familiar with, and whose company we enjoy.

The most fitting comparison that I can think to make, is that autistics are closer to cats, while neurotypicals are more like dogs. Cats are generally not very social animals and prefer to spend most of their time in solitude, while dogs crave and seek out social interactions for the sake of having them. Yet even a shy or particularly aloof cat can become as sociable as any dog towards a human or other animal that they have grown to admire and trust.

It's not that autistic people or cats hate socialising or dislike everyone around them, so much as we treat companionship like a connoisseur would treat art - something that we can derive endless enjoyment from but can easily live without if there is none that is worth our time.

Autistic Pride Symbol Nonconformity - One of the biggest boons of having no problem with being alone is being able to be a genuine nonconformist. Anyone who at all doubts the benefits of nonconformity would be wise to dedicate some time to reading a history book. Human history has been and continues to be littered with tragedies and atrocities that could have been prevented if more people had refused to blindly follow their leaders or countrypeople down a certain path.

The desire to fit in is a survival instinct that evolved in our ancestors to ensure that they remained part of the tribe, since that meant they would have a greater chance of surviving and procreating. This is an instinct that is usually noticeably absent in autistic people. One fascinating study done on children revealed that while neurotypical children will disregard their own observations if they are contradicted by an authority figure, autistic children do not. Another study revealed that autistic adults are far less pervious to advertising than neurotypical adults.

Even more fascinating is that brain scans of autistic adults have revealed that autistic brains have not only radically different connectivity from that of neurotypicals, but even that of each other! While neurotypical brains adhere to a standard pattern of brain connectivity, autistic brains are so individualised that the researchers doing the study could not even figure out how to categorise the brains that they examined!

Many if not most autistics have a very powerful innate revulsion towards authority figures and peer pressure. We seek to do things because we have a reason for doing them, and detest being forced to swallow "everyone else is doing it!" or "this person said so!" as valid excuses for doing something. I suspect this is one reason that so many of us are drawn to logical pursuits such as science or programming. It's very comforting to know there is always a logical explanation for everything, even if (or especially if) it may not yet be known.

This is pure speculation, but I surmise that our tending towards nonconformity results partially from being brow-beaten over our many harmless natural behaviours as we are growing up. Between dealing with sensory assaults from things that neurotypicals see no issue with (I have a life-long revulsion towards eating around other people due to the odors and sounds for example), and being ostracised for stimming or avoiding eye contact, it is easy to realise that we are better off just avoiding and not caring about other people's perceptions of us.

Many neurotypicals seem to have an almost pathological fear of violating arbitrary social norms. I have often heard neurotypicals express a sentiment about wanting to wear a certain innocuous but unconventional article of clothing or do something in a harmless but divergent way, and wishing other people would start doing so that they would also be able to. I always found this sentiment to be fascinating yet disheartening, as there is no reason a person should feel afraid to express themselves provided that they are not harming others.

Harmless self-expression aside, refusing to follow anyone without proper reason for doing so, is a trait that potentially makes autistic people a failsafe for the survival of the human species. Even if the entire rest of the world is persuaded by a particularly charismatic charlatan to jump off the proverbial cliff, the autistic minority who tuned out all of the commotion will still be left behind to rebuild.

Autistic Pride Symbol Heighted senses - The fact that autistic people tend to have significantly heightened senses is something that has typically been treated as evidence that autism is a disability in scientific literature because it leads to us experiencing serious discomfort from stimuli that neurotypicals by large have no issues with. By this same logic, a person with anosmia (no sense of smell) could argue that regular people are disabled because they always react in disgust to foul odors, while the anosmiac is completely unaffected by them.

Just as no sane person would consider cutting off their nose because of the inconvenience of occasionally dealing with putrid scents, I would not even think of trading my superior senses of smell, hearing, and touch in exchange for not dealing with sensory issues. Having heightened senses means feeling everything more, both good and bad. Being easily agitated by loud noises goes hand in hand with being able to derive far more enjoyment from music than most neurotypicals. Being disturbed by the smells, tastes, and textures of many common foods also goes hand in hand with experiencing more pleasure from tolerable foods.

To put a possible number to this phenomenon, a fascinating study from 2013 showed that autistic children produce an astounding 42% more information than neurotypical children's brains when at rest. I would imagine that for many of us, sensory information makes up quite a large chunk of that number.

Neurotypicals often think I am embellishing when I tell them just how strong my senses can be. For instance, I can not only always tell if someone had been using my computer at work, but I can instantly identify who it was because I can vividly feel the texture of their hand when touching the mouse and keyboard and link it to the person via their body odour. My fingers are so sensitive that I can tell exactly how something will taste by touching it. When my grandmother stayed at our house for a month, I could still pick up her scent for months after she left.

Autistic Pride Symbol Creativity - Having higher brain activity, heighted senses, and a tendency towards nonconformity are all natural contributors towards creativity. The notion that being comfortable in prolonged solitude with nothing but one's own thoughts for entertainment is a natural incubator for being a creative type is also a sentiment that I have heard expressed from a (sadly deceased) musician that I was very close friends with.

In spite of the mainstream caricature of autistic people as rigid and robotic thinkers, a 2015 study has shown a link between autism and creativity by examining ideas from both autistic and neurotypical people on possible alternative uses for a brick and a paper clip. While neurotypicals came up with more mundane ideas such as using a paper clip to reset a smartphone, the autistic participants came up with more unorthodox uses, such as heating up a paper clip to stitch up a wound. Backing this up is a declaration from Simon Baron-Cohen, a neuroscientist and a leading autism researcher, that the traits of autism are directly linked to the capability for invention.

Speaking for myself, I am aware that anyone who has gotten to know me would likely say that I am quite imaginative, likely overly so. As a child I could easily amuse myself for hours with something as mundane as a piece of string because I could vividly imagine it as an action figure or anything else that I wanted it to be. I've cobbled together so many detailed ideas for wonderful creative projects in my head that I would need to attain immortality to ever have any chance to actually create even half of them.

Autistic Pride Symbol High intelligence - As mentioned in the main section, autistic people are more likely than neurotypicals to have very low IQs and very high IQs. While only 15.9% of neurotypicals have IQs of 110 or above, a whopping 53.1% of autistics have IQs in that range. Likewise, 15.8% of autistics and only 2.3% of neurotypicals have IQs above 130. Equally revealing is that when all IQ scores that fall under 85 are grouped together, autistic people are not much worse than neurotypicals. 19.1% of autistics and 15.8% of neurotypicals fall into this range!

One sentiment that I have seen expressed in the online autistic community, is that autistic people are far more at home when they can communicate via text, as opposed to having to communicate verbally, especially in-person communication. Based on my own personal experience, I find myself in strong agreement with this.

Lamentably, even in the highly digitised modern world, people are far more likely to negatively judge a person's intellectual capacity based on how they speak and communicate face-to-face, rather than how they communicate via text. I have been negatively judged many a time due to my own clumsy verbal communication, yet have seen others get away with no such judgment despite regularly communicating with their colleagues over e-mail as if they are temporally displaced neanderthals clumsily attempting communication for the first time in their strange new home.

I have an article on the Library of Babel section on why writing/text are an objectively superior communication method to speaking, which I think also makes a convincing point why we ought to be at least as critical of people's written communication skills. The inability to communicate properly via text is a problem that seems to be especially endemic in the United States, to the point where I can often expect someone who speaks English as a second language to nonetheless be better able to communicate in that language than an American who only speaks English.

Autistic Pride Symbol Attention to detail - It's no secret that autistic people are far more likely to notice and pay attention to smaller details that other people tend to miss. I have heard it said that this is a boon that allows many autistic people to have successful careers as programmers, but this is a strength that could be leveraged for a myriad of different pursuits. Doctors, detectives, accountants, pharmacists are all examples of careers that require a mind that is capable of honing in on minute details.

Having an eye for detail also ultimately helps autistic people to make more connections between different things than most neurotypicals would - an obvious godsend for creative pursuits.