Spectrum Strengths Worth Celebrating.
Community Corner is proud to celebrate the strengths of Autistic females with an excerpt from Spectrum Strong. Spectrum Strong is a resource dedicated to empowering neurodivergent females to leverage their autistic strengths and thrive beyond the status quo - Enjoy!
When we learn to recognise our strengths, we are also better able to communicate them to others. These strengths come in handy when we need to self-advocate or just share a little about ourselves. Plus, it's nice to know that we can sprinkle these personal details about ourselves into social media profiles, cover letters, resumes, college essays, or mention them during interviews, “icebreakers," first dates, and best of all -- when educating the world about our spectrum experience!
#1 WE ARE AUTODIDACTS
It's no wonder that both autism and autodidactism share the same Greek root word auto, which means "self" or "on one's own."
As autistics, we are independent thinkers, we take in enormous amounts of information and we're motivated to do so on our own. Tied to our autodidacticism, we may display hyperlexia, which is the precocious ability to read. Like Matilda from the Roald Dahl story, I too found myself easily drawn to any and all written information--from the backs of cereal boxes at the breakfast table to shampoo bottles in the shower. Our inquisitive natures may lead others to classify us as "gifted" at an early age. This is also true for those with hyper-keen memories for recall in the maths and sciences.
That's because for us, learning doesn't always seem like a chore and knowledge can feel like a basic necessity--as fundamental as the basic elements of our survival. We can easily drive ourselves to know more and it doesn't take long for others to notice our active and resourceful curiosity. Google, Wikipedia, and the Internet in general are pretty much our cyborg addons, which we rely on daily to learn more and take in new information. Apathetic answers like "Um, I don't know" or "who cares?!" can inspire our discontent as we are often motivated to deeply investigate and find suitable answers to our tough questions.
When two autistics get together or we're around those we are most comfortable with, one of our favourite pastimes might be "info-dumping" which is basically just sharing pure information related to whatever we're talking about. If you ask us for help or advice, our mind will usually flood with all the relevant information we've taken in along our learning journey and we'll feel the urge to share a comprehensive amount of references, facts, figures, studies, examples, pictures, quotes, and links related to the topic at hand. Simply put we are self-motivated, lifelong learners. We deeply value knowledge and when we learn something that sounds intriguing, we can get so excited that we start jumping up and down and stimming all around because we just to share it.
#2 OUR GRIT KEEPS US GOING
This is Greta Thunberg and Greta’s got grit!
What is grit, exactly?
Well, according to psychologist and researcher Angela Duckworth (who happened to coin the term):
"Grit" = Passion + Perseverance
As women on the spectrum, we are often driven by unique passions. Some might call these passions “special interests” but regardless of what we call them, they are simply the things we care about.
In addition to being passionate about things, we also possess a strong capability to persevere in our passions. We are motivated to press on and stick with what we care about and that is Spectrum Strength. This strength makes us determined and tenacious to achieve whatever we set out to accomplish--in Greta’s case it’s to compel world leaders to act on the threat of climate change but it could easily be something simple like knitting an intricate pattern or carefully setting up your biggest and most colorful domino masterpiece yet. Our grit also lends us the endurance to stay focused on what matters when the going gets tough.
As a young autistic woman with selective mutism, it might be difficult to speak at all, let alone speak to hundreds of world leaders on an international stage like the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference but Greta has a passion--a passion for the planet and the ecological dangers her generation faces if world leaders don’t take significant and swift action on the issue she cares deeply about. This passion compelled Greta to put herself outside the National Legislature of Sweden (Riksdag) for weeks on end in late-August of last year, facing Swedish politicians every single day with a poster that read: “skolstrejk för Klimatet” (school strike for the Climate). This perseverance led Greta to persist in her school strike for months, taking every Friday off to hold up that sign and remind leaders in her country that she’s still paying attention. This is Greta’s grit but we also possess grit like this--it’s one of our spectrum superpowers that we can tap into when we are passionate about something.
#3 FLOW STATES COME NATURALLY
As autistics, we are naturally receptive to “flow” or what most people call being “in the zone.” Why does flow come so easily to us? Well, it’s mostly due to our tendency to hyper focus or become completely absorbed in whatever task we're undertaking.
While in flow, our concentration can seem so intense and we can become so immersed into what we’re doing that nothing else seems to matter.
Hours can pass and we might not even realise it because all self-consciousness disappears and our sense of time fades into the background. Flow is hands down, one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling experiences in the world and we are especially prone to achieving it. Talk about a Spectrum Strength! Flow arises out of the sheer enjoyment of an activity for its own sake. We often achieve “flow” when we are given the opportunity to organise or arrange, whether it be objects, images, information, or words. Some of us even consider this type of organising a form of creativity or play.
As neuro divergent women, we are equipped with what it takes to enter flow easily and stay in it fluently: like mermaids or deep-divers. And just like most sea creatures need water to thrive, we need time and solitude to flow.
This wonderful article was written by the talented Anna Satori from her newly launched blog ‘We Are Spectrum Strong’ These are just three of the 7 wonderful qualities that Anna explores. To read more of Anna’s wonderful writings please click the link below!
You may also enjoy ‘We Are Spectrum Strong’ Facebook Group: