She says, ‘many individuals with autism seem to possess a number of unconventional personality characteristics that can be seen as a special type of personality- autistic personality.
To me, Autism is a special type of personality (O’Neill 2000)
Here are some qualities Olga talks about.
1. Not liars
This does not mean that they never lie. But it does mean that it is harder for them to deceive others.
Moms, the experts see through those lies.
Autistic people tend to have difficulty in lying because of the complex emotions involved in deception. I become extremely anxious when I have to tell a little white lie on the spur of the moment. To be able to tell the smallest fib, I have to rehearse it many times in my mind.
– Temple Grandin
I often have discussions with mothers of autistic individuals I work with.
Despite all odds, our children continue to persist They have an uncommon tenacity.
For example: Mohit suffers from tonic clonic seizures.
After a seizure, he’s knocked out for the entire day.
But once he recovers, he’s up and about. As if nothing happened.
This is what his mother Viji has to say about him.
“He is very calm and just sits up when he gets an attack. This sometimes happens in the middle of the night. He won’t even wake me up. He just goes with the flow, doesn’t make any demands or attention all the time. He will quietly accept all the restrictions I place on his food and activities. Even when he is finding it difficult to breathe, he will go about calmly doing all his chores.”
“I had encountered a number of reversals in my fortune of no small magnitude. In each case, I fought back as much as my resources allowed. If the fight proved successful, all went good. If not, I retrenched and plotted another course for my life. If this retrenchment caused any hardship, I bore it with equanimity until such time as new course came to fruition. In any case, like a cat, I invariably landed on my feet… I was always a survivor.”
– Schneider, Autism and Spirituality
They don’t fit in. They know it.
They do find it difficult to cultivate friendships and relationships.
I’m reminded of my student, Aahan.
He tries his best to interact with people. His goodness and honesty shine through.
Slowly, but surely, he has learned to value himself.
“I have never felt lonely or a need for what could be called the ‘warmth of another human being’… Yet, with people who fervently share interests with me, I have been able when needed to form very close friendships… I have always been able, when needed, to maintain solitude, even in the midst of a large crowd of people… As such, I have never felt what could be called an emotional void that needed to be filled by another person.”
I have learned about genuine loyalty from Mohit and my students. It is not expressed in words. Yet it can be felt. Their unstinting support uplifts my life.
‘If you earn our trust, it is for life.’
– Nancy (Personal communication, 2012)
5. Sense of fairness
Even though I struggle to understand what most people mean when they talk about being “empathetic,” I do have a strong sense of justice and fairness. If I find a cause that resonates with e, I will pursue a solution with a level of singular focus and passion beyond what could be expected from most neurotypical people and fight for what is right with every ounce of who I am. My tendency to focus on a particular subject makes me likely to champion causes I believe in. I also have a strong sense of what’s right and wrong, and this sense tends to guide me throughout my life.
– From an Autistic Individual. Read the article here.
People on the spectrum know they’re different.
They realize that people look at them differently and judge them.
This makes them feel vulnerable.
Being thought of as ‘different’ would make any one feel vulnerable, isn’t it?
In addition to Olga’s description of autistic personality, I would like to add one personality trait I’ve noticed over the years.
7. They accept you for who you are and give unconditional love
This is what I feel in the presence of autistic individuals.
Countless times I’ve broken down and shared my deep inner state with Mohit.
He looks at me lovingly with his deep brown eyes.
He does not judge.
His stillness calms me. Best of all, I can be completely myself with him.
This unconditional love and acceptance emanates from each of my students.