Autism Paradox

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1. It's easy to recite an entire book but difficult to make up a story…because reciting is literal memory (strength) but making up a story requires multiple difficult skills.

2. It's easy to line up toys but difficult to stay in line….because lining up toys helps make the world ordered and predictable, but ‘playing’ with the toys is too open-ended and un-comprehendable, and getting/staying in line requires a sense of body-in-space, personal space & knowledge of the purpose.

3. It makes perfect sense to climb on the sofa but little sense to sit on it….because the sofa just invites climbing like a hallway invites running until I have been acculturated to its purpose to sit on it as expected.

4. Memorizing the Presidents in order - 10 minutes. Packing a school bag - 10 hours. …because factual memory is a strength, but planning and organizing what will be needed for what and when are difficult.

5. Family pictures on the wall are boring but that speck of dust next to it, now that's fascinating! …because faces are hard to understand since they change so much and have so many moving and unpredictable parts, but one speck of dust can be easily tracked.

6. Talking about weather patterns - a piece of cake. Talking about my day - impossible. …because weather patterns are factual, but my day is full of chaos.

7. Ability to focus on spinning objects - timeless. Ability to focus on homework - 3 seconds. …because focusing on the patterns of spinning objects is predictable and allows me to tune out everything else, whereas homework is confusing, focuses on my deficits, will last an unknown quantity of time and may not make sense to me as to why it is important.

8. Being called by name - can't hear it. Some owl hooting in the distance - clear as a bell. …because I may have tuned out my immediate surroundings to escape the chaos, or because my name is called so often, whereas the owl hooting is a very unique sound that grabs my attention.

9. How to operate the remote control - zero instruction. How to button up pants - intensive instruction. …because understanding the details of technology is a strength for me, whereas buttoning my own pants taps some often-weak skills, such as dexterity, muscle tone, fine-motor coordination, grip, motor planning, and the ability to see/do something on my own body.

10. Navigating social rules - poorly skilled. Navigating from the back seat of the car - highly skilled. …because social rules are so variable as to person/time/place and are not black/white and predictable, whereas map and directional skills tend to be a strength.
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