On the other hand, I was (and still am) socially inept, because I don't read body language or facial expressions very well, and I often fail to pick up nonverbal cues. Throughout grade school I was the butt of ridicule and bullying by my peers ("Why do you always look at the ceiling?" they jeered), so that by the time I reached high school, I had pretty much withdrawn from all activities and almost flunked out. The only reason I got into college at all was because I had really high SAT scores. Eventually I got tracked into being a rabbi because I am a good scholar but, alas, most American Jews don't really want scholars, they want "schmoozy" social directors. And that is something I am unable to do very well. So, I ended up as a freelance writer.
Given all of this, how could I possibly believe, as the title of this post suggests, that my autism is a gift? As a child, I did not believe that. Well into adulthood, I thought I was cursed. I spent years of loneliness trying to figure out why I could not fit in anywhere. But recently I have come to realize how being an Aspie gives me a unique and different perspective on the world, and that it has helped my writing immensely. My ability to remember precise details, make fine distinctions among various categories of things, and see complex interconnections all give my writing a clear, fine precision.
|"Big Oak 3" |
by Yonassan Gershom
(An old growth oak on my land)
I also believe my odd personality prevented this from becoming a cult, heaven forbid. Since I have zero charisma as a New Age guru, it was not likely that any groupies would blindly idolize me. In fact, readers are often very disappointed to discover that the author of the book they love is a chattering Aspie nerd who does not fit their stereotype of "spiritual." And that is for the best.