Redefining Autism: Shifting the Narrative

It is in human nature to focus on differences, which is very well explained through the concept of neurodiversity and the differences between ‘neurotypicals’ and ‘neurodivergent’ people.

But are we really that different?

Every person is unique, regardless of whether they are neurotypical or neurodivergent. For example, every child has unique strengths and abilities, but also their own needs, personality traits and simply a way of being. Children living with autism may face challenges in some areas, such as social interaction, but they also have amazing strengths and powers that can go beyond the range experienced by neurotypicals.

Therefore, it’s about time we start focusing on positivity and creating an equal space for autistic people in the community, and understand that these brilliant, detail-oriented minds can add immense value to the community.

The Idea of Viewing Autism Through a Strengths-Based Lens

Identifying the skills and talents of autistic adults and children can have a life-changing impact on the individuals, their families and the community.

How can we do that?

Through our years-long experience working with autistic people, we have witnessed amazing transformations and positive outcomes by implementing the Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) and strengths-reinforcement strategy.

Autistic individuals are characterised by unique cognitive and neurological differences that can bring talent and creativity and create new perspectives. Recognising and supporting these differences fosters a path towards creating a diverse and cooperative society that will unlock the full potential of every individual.

Understanding and embracing neurodiversity within the community, education, and employment is an essential step towards creating an inclusive and progressive society where everyone can thrive and feel valued and respected.

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Exploring Autism's Superpowers

In today’s society, very few autistic people are given the opportunity to do what they love as a job, even though they want to. For that purpose, many studies are dedicated to exploring and uncovering the unique powers and talents of autistic people in educational and employment settings.

A recent study aimed to analyse the strengths and abilities of autistic adults in the workplace compared to non-autistic colleagues reveals what has been discovered:

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The study was based on autistic people’s workplace skills and experiences. This is particularly important as it offers autistic people’s own views rather than other people’s views about autistic skills. Some of the extraordinary strengths can be commonly seen in children with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome.

In addition, we will explore in detail the superpowers of autism spectrum disorder that allow autistic individuals to make unique contributions to society.

Sensory Perception

Other research shows that many autistic children and adults have heightened sensory perceptions such as:

Heightened sensory perception is a great trait that helps autistic people with their creativity and ability to offer unique perspectives. However, many people experience difficulties with sensory perception and may need support with sensory overload.

Attention to Detail

Autistic people often focus on details that most neurotypicals don’t even notice, which can benefit both creative and scientific professions. It’s also a reason why autistic people excel at pattern recognition.

Focus and Passion

When autistic people discover an activity that catches their attention and imagination, they can spend hours learning about it or enjoying it. This may also involve problem-solving activities where autistic children and adults show extraordinary results due to the highly developed perception, focus and passion to find the solution.

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Visual Thinking

When talking about autism, it is important to mention the outstanding visual abilities of some children and adults on the autism spectrum. Visual thinking is an act of grasping information and communicating ideas visually. Compared to the wider population, autistic people are more sensitive to colours, lines, shapes, spaces and the relationship between them.

Visual thinking is much more than processing images. It involves a quick and better understanding of how specific data relates to other pieces of information, pattern recognition, and creativity.

Creative and Artistic Talents

Based on a recent study, creative thinking is more prominent in autistic children compared to their neurotypical peers. The deep sense of imagination, eye for detail and lack of social constraints make the perfect combination for creating art that provides a profound sense of meaning. Making art can also become an intentional daily routine that will allow children to practice their motor and cognitive skills.

Mathematical Abilities

The neurodivergent minds of autistic people are often gifted with great skills in mathematics and arithmetic. Some may exhibit exceptional proficiency in pattern recognition, logical reasoning, and problem-solving. They may excel in tasks that require precision and attention to detail, such as geometry or algebra.

Many ABA researchers and other field professionals have noticed that autistic people possess above-average math skills. A study of 36 children, half of whom experienced autism, showed that autistic students consistently performed better than their non-autistic peers.

Honesty and Loyalty

Honesty and loyalty are often profoundly ingrained qualities in many autistic individuals. Their strong sense of moral integrity can make them exceptionally honest and trustworthy in their interactions with others. Loyalty is another hallmark trait, as they tend to form deep and lasting connections with friends and loved ones. These qualities, driven by a strong sense of consistency and authenticity, can be invaluable in building meaningful relationships and fostering trust in both personal and professional settings.

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Positive Impact of Strength-Based Approach

A strengths-based approach in health and social care focuses on identifying and excelling people’s strengths, skills and talents.

The strengths-based approach is a scientifically proven method used to improve the lives of people of all ages, with or without any specific physical or neurological difference. However, it has shown particularly good results in supporting neurodiverse people.

Adopting the strengths-based approach encourages a more understanding and accommodating atmosphere in educational institutions and workplaces. Recognising autism strengths and abilities, besides their differences, allows individuals to thrive and reach their full potential.

Creating a culture that focuses on ‘What’s strong’ rather than ‘What’s wrong’ is a step towards building a diverse workforce and educational settings, paving the way for innovation and co-production.

Nurturing Strengths and Abilities in Autism

Autistic people have a set of unique strengths and skills that can empower them to thrive and make a difference in society. However, autistic children often face distinctive challenges compared to children in the neurotypical population, mostly because their needs are not recognised and supported.

The truth is the world is generally organised for neurotypical people or those who do not have other neurological or neurodevelopmental differences. This implies that autistic people struggle to navigate a society that is often not designed for their needs in mind.

When working with autistic and neurodiverse people and sharing moments of happiness, sadness, disappointment and hope, we came to the conclusion that these minds have so much potential, skills and power, and a genuine love for the world. When identified and appropriately channelled, their unique strengths can help build a society of innovation, inclusion and diversity.

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Strength-based Approach with Leaf Complex Care

As a humanised healthcare provider, Leaf Complex Care is dedicated to shifting perspectives and changing the narratives of how neurodiverse people are seen and understood. We believe that for the world to change, we need to start from ourselves, as an organisation, but also as individuals.

We value the skills and talents of autistic people, and we are more than happy to have Jake as a teammate and a member of our Family. With his genuine passion and dedication to work, Jake is a source of inspiration for the entire team at Leaf Complex Care-Exeter. Take a moment to read Jake’s mini-interview and learn about his journey with autism, job role and unique perspective.

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With offices in Bristol, Slough, Birmingham and Somerset, we deliver our services across the UK.

For more detailed information, please contact us today!