“Many people ask me what is like to have Asperger’s syndrome and my response to that is: You feel like you’re in a society with tons of people who say they are average and then there’s you who feels different and acts different and experiences life differently,” explains Matthew Archambault.
“I guess that leads me to believe you feel normal until told otherwise. When I was a young child I never saw myself as different until people looked at me differently and doctors told me I was different which changes your perspective on life. I believe society sets a standard for what normal is which is far from the truth, what if Asperger’s syndrome is a whole new way of thinking [and] judging by the numbers of Asperger’ diagnosed children it’s more normal than ever before and becoming a more popular way of thinking. For me Asperger syndrome is just a label because I stand out and don’t meet normal in society’s standards.”
In light of Autism Awareness month, we don’t want to just create awareness but also create acceptance. Autistic individuals have a lot to offer in a variety of settings. For example, the Israeli Defense Force Satellite Intelligence Unit assigns autistic soldiers to monitor combat maps to report the slightest changes. These soldiers have the ability to focus for hours on end opposed to non-autistic soldiers. Focusing in on a task is something that comes naturally to many autistic people.
Some other traits exemplified by autistic individuals in the workforce include:
1) their ability to stay on task even when unsupervised
2) their levels of creativity can bring new perspectives, especially for problem solving
3) their passionate nature leads to high levels of productivity
So as Matthew says, perhaps we really need to re-evaluate the way we discuss autism as a disorder. Autistic individuals can be empowered, high-functioning assets to society and we should acknowledge this before writing them off as “disabled.”
For more on autism and thriving in the workplace, click here
For autism simulations created to help you experience sensory overload, click here