The Awesome Autistic Guide to Being Proud is one of three brand new books in the ever-growing range of Awesome Autistic Guide books from Yenn Purkis and Tanya Masterman. Here, you can read an exclusive extract all about some of the great things about being Autistic!

Awesome Autistic

Some Good Things About Being Autistic

One of the best things about being autistic is that our brains work differently from typical brains. It would be a very boring world if all our brains worked the same. Imagine all the world’s brains are like paints in a big paint set, all different colours. As separate colours, they are very beautiful and can be made into many vibrant pictures. But if all the colours were mixed together, we would end up with a dull, yucky, brown sort of colour and the world could only paint boring brown pictures. We have nothing against brown – chocolate is brown! – but we wouldn’t want everything to be brown, would we?

You might have seen the rainbow infinity symbol. That means neurodiversity (all different types of brains are normal), and represents all the different brains – all the types of neurodivergent brains (brains different from standard), and neurotypical brains as well. What colour would you use to represent your brain? Tanya would use blue-green. Yenn would use purple, probably with some glitter.  

Are We Superheroes?

Has anyone ever told you that autism is your superpower? Or have you heard anyone say that about autism? Some people even say that autism is the next stage in human evolution, as if we are more advanced than allistic (non-autistic) people. It might seem as if some autistic people do have a superpower if they are incredibly good at something, like making drawings so detailed that they look like photographs. But most autistic people don’t have abilities like that. Some think all autistic people are geniuses and that kind of thing can be really harmful to all of us. This is an example of a stereotype, which we talked about before. We are just people, like everyone else.

Awesome Autistic

The truth is that we’re not superheroes, and we don’t have superpowers, and we’re not more advanced than allistic people. Yenn and Tanya think people say these things to try and make us feel good about being autistic, because it can be tricky to be in the world sometimes. But those things are not true, and it’s more helpful to focus on the positives of autism that are true. Like everyone else on the planet, there are things we are good at, things we’re not so good at, things that are easy or hard, and even some that we just can’t do, such as lifting a car up with our hands – we could never do that, but a superhero probably could!

It’s fun to imagine though. If we could have real superpowers, Tanya would like the ability to shapeshift into anything, including inanimate objects like planes. Yenn would like to be able to fly. Min wishes they could clone themselves so their clone could do PE for them while Min did whatever they wanted. What superpower would you like to have?

It’s hard to say what things autistic people are often good at, because we are all different people and autism isn’t our only characteristic! But there are some common experiences.

Our Interests

One thing that most autistic people have is a really strong passionate interest in something or maybe more than one thing. That is a huge positive thing! We develop expertise when we do everything we can to learn about our interests, and it can give us energy and make us feel happy, or content and relaxed. We might:

■ watch YouTube videos about it

■ read or listen to books about it

■ talk with other people about it. It’s wonderful to find other people who love it as much as we do!

■ watch TV shows about it

■ think about it

■ listen to podcasts about it

■ do activities about it by ourselves or with other people (if it’s something we can do, like drawing Anime characters).

Sometimes our interests last a long time, even our whole lives, and sometimes they last a short time. If an interest lasts a very short time, sometimes they are called a ‘hyperfixation’, especially if you have ADHD as well (which many autistic people do). Sometimes we have both! We might have a passionate interest in something, and hyperfixate on a specific part. For example, we might have a passionate interest in a particular band and learn everything about them. Then that band might release a new album and we listen to that album over and over again all day. That’s hyperfixation

Tanya has a passionate interest in knitting, and makes samples for a yarn shop so they can put them on display. Once she was asked to make something using a technique she had never tried before. She spent all weekend watching videos about that technique, practising it and training her fingers to do it without thinking. Once she had done that, she stopped. That was a hyperfixation.

So those abilities can be super helpful for us to gain new knowledge and skills and just have a lovely time! Some people are lucky enough to find a job using their passionate interest, like Yenn, who has a passionate interest in autism. Handy, huh?

Just a heads-up though – when we are hyperfixated on something, we are often so focused that we don’t eat, drink, move around or go to the toilet. Those things are important for the health of our bodies. So it’s a good idea to set reminders, or ask someone to gently remind you. You can make sure you have a water bottle next to you, to make it easier.

The Awesome Autistic Guide to Being Proud is available now.

Or you can buy all 3 new books in Yenn Purkis & Tanya Masterman’s Awesome Autistic Guide series in this exclusive bundle deal, filled with friendly advice to help your child embrace their autistic identity. 

Also available in the series are: The Awesome Autistic Go-To Guide and The Awesome Autistic Guide for Trans Teens.

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