Monday, August 3, 2015


We all have them, at least all of us on the spectrum do.  At least this is what I believe. I've met far to many of my tribe to believe that "savant abilities" are the rarity they were once thought to be.  Recent experience has definitely supported this position.

I was watching The Food Network back in January, just a day or two before Amanda's mom passed. It was just Nathan and me in the house.  He came out and explained to me that he could do something interesting.  I paused the TV.  Culinary idea theft is a passion of mine.  The boy telling me he can do something extremely unique was worth a pause.

He presented me some easy examples, so I decided to put his claim to the test.  The results were impressive.  I continued to push the limits of his newly declared ability.  It became very obvious that Nathan has a Superpower.

A Superpower?   Yes.  That's what I choose to call them.  I dislike the stigma carried on the word "savant".  It conjures up images of people with one incredible mental ability but with crippling deficits in all others.  That definitely doesn't describe Nathan, nor does it describe me.  

At first, Nathan didn't believe what he could do was real.   I assured him it was and used the "Superpower" analog to help him accept it and enjoy his special ability.  I assured him that I'd talked to our "shrink", and that she fully believes it and is impressed beyond words with what he can do.  I've seen him using it to connect with people recently and as an "ice breaker" with people he meets. He's leveraging his far earlier than I did mine.  

The more astute readers have noticed that I haven't disclosed the details of Nathan's "Superpower".  I'm not going to.  Some would use him for entertainment as though he were some trained monkey.  Not interested.  

Nathan's ability has been demonstrated for trusted family and friends.  Those he chooses to show are his choice and his business.  

I've known numerous other people "of my tribe" who have Superpowers of their own.  Yes, even I have one or more.  Unlike my approach with Nathan, I will disclose my own.  

I am hyper-observant.  My brain unconsciously records massive amounts of data about people I encounter.  Once a set of norms has been identified, I can recognize people from great distances by their gait, stance, and several other characteristics.  I can determine a person's emotional state by those same measures, as well as the two syllables of "hello" when they answer the phone.  I can even read "tone" into text messages.  I have NO IDEA how, though I suspect my brain has a "norm" identified profiling the person's normal word choices and immediately pics up on deviations.  

It's taken most of my life for me to learn to utilize this rather strange mental ability.  It comes in very handy in technology work and in the corporate world.  Lying to me is VERY difficult.   Folks may try, but it usually sets off alarms in my head.  In technical designs, I see the big picture and minute detail simultaneously and with equal understanding.  I once thought everyone could do that.  

My left arm bears a tattoo that speaks to both the Superpowers autism gives and the things it takes away.   It has become the symbol of my message to the world.  Imagine what we'd be if we had all that autism gives, but lacked nothing it takes.  The missing piece is much smaller than what remains.  See us in terms of what is there and not what is missing.

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