In many creative fields, such as art, writing, or film, you are often advised to ‘think differently. With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), that takes literal physical meaning, to put it simply.
The ASD webpage for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes ASD as a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain.
Certain lights and sounds may be uncomfortable. We may have trouble picking up specific social cues, like jokes or how someone may feel.
Some interests will be hyper-focused. We can be frank in our communication and may prefer straightforward communication with ourselves. Some of our social behaviours might seem odd to others. But not to us.
We are all different in subtle ways, better measured on a spectrum rather than a measuring line, hence the “spectrum” part of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
This part of me is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to my education, both on campus and at home. Distractions can come easy, but what is and is not a distraction can be in constant flux.
This makes it difficult for a journalism student, like myself, to complete assignments. I often feel an urge to stop and watch a video or a TikTok to ease myself when I feel agitated.
Sometimes, it can feel necessary, yet a very easy abyss to fall under if not careful.
In journalism, you interact with others on a regular basis, by pitching stories, booking interviews, conducting interviews, and writing. All of them require more succinct personal interaction between myself and another.
It’s difficult to get myself to interact with others since anxiety is a very gripping issue. When I’m interacting with others, I have to train myself to recognize certain social cues and emotional ticks that a neurotypical person can usually pick up on with ease.
There have been times when I couldn’t complete assignments, or they’ve been late. As a result, my marks suffer. This feels like a form of writer’s block, except that the creative material is still in purgatory stuck in my head.
The need to work remains.
I just simply stop and can’t apply myself. It feels like it stems from discomfort with the creative process in some form. It’s simply frustrating.
Yet despite it all, ASD does not disable me. It impedes but does not incapacitate and I think that distinction is important to make.
To impede is to have a car wheel that needs adjusting and tinkering, and works better on some terrain than others. But it still functions. To disable means to have that car wheel utterly broken or missing, preventing the car from moving.
My ASD does not stop me, it simply means I must adjust myself and my methods of learning.