21 Awesome Autistic Traits

Katy Elphinstone is the author of How to Raise Happy Neurofabulous Children and parent of two children, one of whom is autistic. She is also autistic herself, works with the Loch Arthur Camphill Community for people with learning difficulties, and is a participating member of SWAN, the Scottish Women’s Asperger’s Network. Katy also publishes articles on autism and parenting on her website (www.neurofabulous.org.uk).

This little list is for autistic people and for parents of children with autism alike.

Many things in life can be super-hard if you’re autistic, but, maybe surprisingly to many people, there can be amazing things about it too!

There are so, so many lists out there of the negative and difficult symptoms and traits of autism… and I thought it was time for a bit of balance 😊

So here are some of the awesome characteristics your child might possess if they are autistic or otherwise neurodivergent:

Awesome trait no. 1

Hyper-sensory experiences

Hyper-receptivity to sensory input can be difficult, as the chances of frequent sensory overload are high.

But with it, we might also be aware of ambient nuances, beauty, and subtlety. And we may notice in time if the house is burning down (autistic people are often highly sensitive to smell)!

Awesome trait no. 2

Unusual empathy

For people, animals, and even objects!

This empathy, when felt and shown, can be very democratic, i.e., it doesn’t exclude people/creatures who don’t appear useful, who perhaps haven’t succeeded well in life & who many would judge and write off.

Awesome trait no. 3

Remarkable perception

Differences in ways information is processed, combined with heightened levels of perception in some areas (e.g. when it comes to details and/or patterns), can lead to a lot of creativity, and unusual talents.

Awesome trait no. 4

Feats of memory

Autistic people are often capable of remembering a vast amount of information on a topic of interest.

Note: the topic could be literally anything. There’s no hierarchy! An in-depth interest in (and knowledge about) e.g. Pokémon or Avatar’s world is just as valid as an intense interest in quantum physics, or Baroque composers.

Awesome trait no. 5


The capacity to focus on a single topic with all of one’s mind/attention, and be practically un-distractable from it!

This ability to hyper-concentrate can lead to a high level of productivity, and even to new ground being explored.

Awesome trait no. 6


The ability to keep on at a specific task for extended periods of time… as we often have a great capacity for perseverance when working on tasks of interest to us.

Though these periods of hyper-activity generally need to be alternated with some proper down-time – something I call ‘vegetation’.

Awesome trait no. 7

Interesting reading and writing skills

Some autistics can read very fast, or very early, and/or in quite unusual styles.

For example, mirror writing and reading/writing upside down are among the interesting skills that can be sometimes seen in autistic people (these skills, when seen in more pronounced ways, are known as hyperlexia).

Awesome trait no. 8

Attention to detail

Autistic people might pay a lot of attention to details, sometimes to the point of not seeing the whole at all (or at least not in the same way as others).        

We may take longer to process things, but we’re a bit less liable to quickly generalize things, when information is lacking, to come to a possibly-inaccurate conclusion.

We may notice things other people don’t (while not noticing things other people do!).

Awesome trait no. 9

Looking for the ‘why’ of things

Autistic people may have a strong tendency to try to figure out why things might be as they are. And then to creatively imagine how they could be changed.

Autistic people of all ages may strongly wish for social justice and fairness, and be upset at seeing exploitation of the vulnerable, including cruelty e.g. to animals.

Awesome trait no. 10


To an autistic person, ‘because everyone else is doing it’ is not a good reason for doing something! We tend to lack that sort of ‘herd mentality’, usually entirely.

I see this as a positive – a safeguard against bullying and mob mentality, as well as an avenue for creativity, positive risk-taking and celebrating our differences.

Awesome trait no. 11

Doing things because they’re important, and not to look good!

We’re unlikely to feel much of an urge to adhere to group code (not voluntarily, anyway, i.e. if we are not ‘masking’).

So we might find truthful and insightful answers where others fear treading.

On the downside, we often don’t achieve much success and recognition for what we do, as we don’t prioritize our own success and status… or…uh… ‘networking’. 😳

Awesome trait no. 12

Unusual visual-spatial skills

Some autistic people may enjoy modelling, or imaginatively laying out gardens and interiors, or making intricate paintings/cartoons/embroideries, or drawing out maps, or even (for some) making and fixing things.

For example, I’m rather good at putting together IKEA furniture (even if, ahem, I might not manage to go to IKEA to buy it)!

Awesome trait no. 13

Analytical skills

Our absorption of info & analytical style may, at times, allow us to spot patterns.

We might see and make sense of connections between subjects encompassing a broad spectrum. This could even mean, at times, making correlations between data sets and coming to a ‘new idea’.

It’s been said of people who’re autistic or ADHD that it’s not so much about thinking outside the box… as apparently not even being aware there is a box!

Awesome trait no. 14

A capacity for true, loyal friendships

Autistic people often take people as they are, and are not as what the societal hierarchy/social norms, popularity or economic status, deem them to be.

This can, with some luck and a conducive environment, lead to true friendships with genuinely good and kind people, because of understanding their worth and really valuing them.

Awesome trait no. 15

Failure to take on others’ ideas about duty

It may sound odd to call this a positive! But, in our world, self-discipline is (illogically) something we impose on kids ‘for their own good’. People get bent into the standing rules and norms of our society, and spontaneous joy becomes a guilty luxury, or even a distant memory.

Autistic children often can’t be easily made to internalize this kind of ‘self-discipline’.

I’ve wondered if this might be why some therapies and programs for autistic children allow for quite drastic measures, many of which are no longer considered acceptable in the education of allistic children.*

Awesome trait no. 16

Resistance to being molded

It’s a good thing, in my view, to be resistant to being ‘improved’ and changed as a person. It is not always a positive thing to fit in – obviously depending hugely what kind of environment you are fitting into and what sorts of compromises it will take to do so.

I see this intrinsic resistance as an involuntary and positive rebellion against excessive conformity.

Awesome trait no. 17

Strong reactions against being manipulated

Autistic people, even though we might feel ashamed because of it, tend to strenuously resent and resist attempts by other people to manipulate us.

Some meltdowns may be due to this. Feeling ‘wrong’, due to pressure to conform plus an inability to do so! You feel judged and manipulated.

After anger comes shame as you are brought gently to understand how you, and only you, were at fault.

Awesome trait no. 18

Unusual and/or pronounced forms of imagination

Some autistic people can enter an imaginary world almost to the exclusion of everything else. This can manifest in areas such as art, writing, or other forms of creativity.

Then, there are those with Aphantasia (an inability to form mental images of things that aren’t there). People with aphantasia sometimes have sensory experiences instead of remembering objects or people (such as taste, or smell)!

Awesome trait no. 19

Childlike demeanour

A childlike playfulness may be found in autistic adults (not to be confused with immaturity!). We may live in the moment, and derive pleasure from the small things.

Having immediate, genuine, and heartfelt reactions to experiences (whether positive or negative), plus a capacity to be easily amused.

And there may be a natural trust/innocence, retained into adulthood (which can, unfortunately, get exploited in some cases).

Awesome trait no. 20


Autistic people are often disconcertingly honest. Many find it literally impossible to tell a downright lie.

This lack of ability to pretend to others that either you believe something you don’t or you feel a way you don’t, means that many autistic people learn to keep quiet rather than make any attempts to either pretend, or risk telling the truth.

Awesome trait no. 21

Having a strong community

We autistic people are not widely lauded in the mainstream for our social skills.

But with growing online communities, autistic people show significant skills in inclusion, advocacy, and just plain socializing!

(This is not to say, though, that many of us do not feel lonely quite often. Sensitivity & social anxiety, often caused by negative experiences of being around people, can mean we avoid people ‘in real life’.)

And here we come to the end of my list of the Twenty-one Awesome traits of Autism.

What I’ve written above, however, is not at all meant to discount the harder parts of being autistic – indeed, many of the traits listed obviously come with a quite major downside, often greatly depending on the context.

But this short list is my way of celebrating the positives of who we are, as well.

More of my articles can be found here: https://www.neurofabulous.org.uk/articles.html

* An obvious example is ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis), a therapy which is still used in our schools, by therapists and psychologists, and in the home. On the Wrong Planet forum I’ve come across some quite interesting threads with titles such as ‘Who else out there survived ABA therapy?’

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