Did you know that Autism gives you superpowers? It’s true! My son is an Asperger’s kid. He has high functioning Autism. And boy, does he have superpowers! He is so smart. If he has a special interest in something, he will study it until he knows everything there is to know about it. It’s work to keep up with him. But it’s really fun too.
But before I get into the superpowers, I need to tell you a little about Autism. First, any mom with a kid with Autism will tell you, you can’t discipline Autism out of a child. You can’t even discipline a kid with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) the same as you would other children. Some kids are motivated by negative consequences or punishment. Not an ASD kid. They are motivated by encouragement and positive rewards. For them the negative punishments just make them resent you. And often what some people see as bad behavior is actually an autism overload meltdown.
And when they decide it’s time to master something, nothing will stand in their way. Until that time you can talk till you’re blue in the face, but nothing is going to force that child (to potty train, ride a bike, do their homework, etc) to do something they aren’t ready for.
Everyone is on the Autism spectrum somewhere
Second, Autism has a rainbow of symptoms. Everyone on earth has some Autistic traits. But you need to collect enough of them before they call it Autism. Some kids are further down the scale one way, and some another. My son has Asperger’s syndrome which is sometimes called high functioning Autism. If you want to watch a hilarious example of High Functioning Autism (HFA) in an adult, watch Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. At least in the earlier episodes, he reminded me so much of my HFA brother.
I’ve watched my son struggle with things that other kids seem to get without trying. But I need you to understand something. Autism is a difference. It’s not a defect. And even though those with Autism have greater challenges than others, they also have some serious superpowers. Now we get to the good part. The superpowers that come with Autism are enviable.
One of my son’s Superpowers is super senses. He smells better than I do, hears things like an eagle, and can taste the difference between two different brands of Applewood smoked bacon. He is a supertaster. The food industry would LOVE to have this kid help them flavor medicine or vitamins. Because I’ve found very few that aren’t disgusting to him.
These super senses come in super handy when I’m waiting for a delivery—he always hears the truck when it pulls up outside. And I can see how helpful it would be for him to be able to smell smoke before anyone else, and thus save property damage and lives in the process.
My son’s super senses do make life difficult when he is the only one to notice when clothing is itchy. And he can see lights flicker sometimes when I don’t. The noise when large groups of people get together can really overwhelm him. But with some careful planning, his super senses don’t get in the way of his life.
He is also a whiz with computers. In this day in age that’s a huge gift. He is great at computer games and has mastered Minecraft like nobody’s business. He’s only 7, and the game is intended for kids ages 10 and up. But he can type, read, spell, and code on the PC, so he sees no problem playing with the older kids. It’s amazing. As a mom whose phone still has capabilities I haven’t tapped, I consider his gift with computers to be a superpower.
Most kids are a little skittish around animals. Or more precisely, animals can be skittish around kids. My friend raises chickens. And my son loves them. He has quickly learned how to handle them, to be careful with them, and seems to naturally earn their trust. We had several children sitting in a circle holding baby chicks recently. The other three children had chicks that were chirping at the top of their lungs.
Even the chick in my hand seemed determined to get away. But the one my son held was quiet. It sat there calmly until it fell asleep in his hands. No, it wasn’t sick, it was just so trusting of my boy and his natural abilities with animals. This is super power number three.
Another Autism trait is that they are super honest. They see the world in more black and white, right and wrong, more easily than most people. This is a great gift when you’re coming from the Christian perspective. Because I’ve always wanted my family to have a closer walk with God, and my boy comes by it naturally.
He wants to know the rules, and he wants to follow them. He trusts God so easily and often tells me how grateful he is for things I take for granted. In a world where there are so many shades of grey, I’d call his clear vision of good and evil a great superpower.
I’m really enjoying getting to know my son as an Asperger kid. Thanks to a great ABA therapist, he knows and understands his diagnosis and he is proud of who he is. I’m forever grateful to his amazing therapist who has taught him that there is no shame in his difference. His brain is simply wired differently. And she has helped him see his gifts. I’ve only listed a few of them here. And as he grows older we will keep discovering more.
My son has an amazing memory. This makes it so he remembers everything he studies. His special interests are especially easy for him to remember. But he will even remember experiences from when he was very small. Things I would never have remembered when I was that age.
This memory superpower is a blessing and a curse. Last year he had a teacher who really had no idea how to handle someone on the Spectrum. All she did was punish children and never knew when to back off. She upset my son and reversed a lot of the progress we had made with him. She had little understanding of my son’s needs, and she didn’t want to learn.
We have spent a LOT of time helping my son recover from this teacher. She will likely forget him in a few years. But he will never forget her. Unfortunately, his memory is too good for that. So this is one superpower that I can immediately see is a blessing, but something we will need to work on with him.
It’s not something to fear
It’s wonderful to be able to take something many seem to fear these days and turn it on its ear. I mean how many times have you gotten a quiz that pops up on your Facebook feed challenging you to see if your child has Autism? Now I know that it’s not something to be afraid of. And I want the rest of the world to know it too.
Like everything, Autism is a mixed bag of blessings and challenges. But what in life isn’t? My son’s weaknesses are not his fault. And they can be overcome with time and therapy. (I will cover those another time.)
We have had a rough road. And many other families have a far more difficult road to travel than we have. But I am so grateful for the professionals who have guided us on this journey.
I feel like there is a light where there wasn’t before. And learning the positive side of Autism has healed my heart. The world would be boring if we were all the same. And I am grateful to get to take this journey with excellent professionals who show me the positive side of things.
**For those interested in teaching their family and friends about Asperger’s, I’d recommend a book called ‘Dude I’m an Aspie!’ written by a man with Asperger’s who loves to doodle. He took his superpower and made a book—one for kids and one for adults—to help explain to the rest of us what Asperger’s is.**