The Prison That Is Autism

People on the autism spectrum seem to live in an invisible prison, often of their own making.

They paper their walls to keep out sensory distractions and especially noise.

In The Prison That Is Autism, it is often a prison of their own making.

I imagine that my own walls are papered with pages from dictionaries and books. The edges overlap to seal out the overhead light that always seems too bright.

Perhaps Bill Gates’ walls are lined with hundred-dollar bills. And Jerry Seinfeld’s walls are lined with jokes.

“Avoiding eye contact is one of the things I find myself automatically doing to minimize the quantity of incoming sensory information.” – Judy Endow


There are many famous people who have either been diagnosed with some form of autism or who share the traits.

Those once said to have Asperger’s Syndrome are now considered to be “on the autism spectrum.” Because everyone is different.

Those who find the field or hobby that makes the blood in their veins thrum will usually excel.

“No matter how hard I try to learn from other people or copy what others are doing, I can’t quite get it right. It’s like living in a foreign country and not knowing the language.” – Rosie King


Emily Dickinson is believed to be somewhere on the spectrum. As well as Albert Einstein and chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer. Then there is Dan Aykroyd and Anthony Hopkins.

Jerry Seinfield, due to his history of social challenges and unique way of thinking literally. Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock. James Taylor and Bob Dylan. And on and on.

These dynamic and talented people stand out from the crowd because their light shines so brightly.

“If you got rid of all the autism genetics, you wouldn’t have science or art. All you would have is a bunch of social ‘yak yaks’” – Temple Grandin


Their social skills may be lacking and they usually avoid eye contact.

But with some of these individuals, the gift of their genius is the obvious abnormality. Perfection lies in their imperfection.

Key Takeaways:

Autism (commonly referred to as ASD, autism spectrum disorder) refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.

The effects of ASD and the severity of symptoms can be very different in each person. Additionally, these things can also change over time. This is why it’s considered a spectrum.

Many people with ASD gift the world with inventions or new ways of thinking. Judy Singer, for example, is the woman who coined the term “neurodiversity” in the 1990s.

If they grab onto their specialness and rein it in, some of their ideas will change the world.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” – Dr. Seuss


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23 Comments

  1. I was always considered “different” and labeled as “too sensitive” growing up and even as an adult. These people are no longer in my life. From what you’ve described here I’m certain I would have been labeled on the spectrum because of “noise” which I find distracting. I also dislike overhead lights and really bright lights. I like peace, calm and consistency. I don’t self-label and I try not to label other people, because I find it destructive. As an adult what other people described in a negative way I see as a strength and I like that about myself. All “different” really means is that you may not conform and some people may have a huge issue with that.

  2. Asperger’s is mainly a different way of thinking…I really enjoyed Temple Grandin’s book and other videos on her life. She has done remarkable things for the cattle industry!! She said her grandpa who also had Asperger’s invented the auto pilot for airplanes and asked if mankind would rather live without that. It is certainly something to think about. There is a purpose for each one of us. I believe that there are varying degrees of Asperger’s within our family, maybe even most of them…altho only 1 grandson has formally been diagnosed with it. He is a wonderful loving remarkable guy and we are so glad he is among us!

  3. Amazing list of people. It absolutely boggles my mind to think all that we would have lost if “we” had tried to make”them” more like “us” and succeed. They have been gifted with the ability to see the world differently and this has been to the world’s benefit. Neurodiversity is certainly something to be accepted. But diversity of any type seems to come to acceptance slowly. Racial, ethnic, cultural, gender, diversity of religion, still all have a long way to go.

  4. Brenda, such an interesting post. For years my niece was diagnosed with Autism, my brother went back to school and earned a Masters to not only help her but other children as well. He kept insisting that she did not have autism, and at 11 years of age they finally said he was right, she has Rhetts syndrome. No matter what it is called she will never be “normal” and we worry all of the time about people hurting her(she is 16) feelings or things she will miss out on because it won’t be possible for her to do it, like driving, etc. She is an amazing young woman and we are blessed and thankful for all of the amazing teachers she has had. Special Ed teachers are angels.
    Happy Weekend Brenda,

  5. Thank you, Brenda, for this very enlightening post. As I reflect on my own life, and those I am close to, it becomes much clearer that we all have our own ways of seeing and being in the world. It’s my deep hope that as we learn more and more about these topics, we grow in compassion toward one another.
    I feel I must disagree with Jan a bit, respectfully of course. In the past, people who were different were often ridiculed, often most cruelly. Our societies have, I feel, started to evolve, if only in a small way. I hope so, anyway.
    Thanks again, Brenda.

    1. Often these children are bullied for being different. Because when you’re a child, you simply want to blend in. And sometimes you can’t.

  6. Brenda,
    Thank you for today’ most interesting and enlightening post!
    Thank you also for making it shareable via FaceBook which i did!
    I have several friends with children in the Spectrum ..
    I’ve watched the children grow and thrive though various means..
    As you ,mentioned, the kids are highly intelligent and are succeeding in various venues.. finding a means of communication is the key..once found , watch them soar into their limit!!
    “Their social skills may be lacking and they usually avoid eye contact.
    But with some of these individuals, the gift of their genius is the obvious abnormality. Perfection lies in their imperfection.”
    Thank you again..

  7. I can’t help but think that before we started putting “scientific” or “psychiatric” labels on everybody’s behaviors, we as a species, as civilizations, as societies, were a heck of a lot better off. People who were sometimes thought to have some “strange” behaviors weren’t ordinarily just discarded and thrown into a trash pile in the “olden days,” but today I think it’s different. The minute we LABEL somebody, we’re suddenly suspicious or leery or maybe even frightened of what we think the label represents – not a good thing.

  8. I truly enjoyed reading this post. Enlightening and informative! Thank you so much!
    Enjoy your Fri-YAY!

  9. Loved the comment about value and worth. Working with preschool children for 20 years I have seen it all. I am proud to say my colleagues and I treated our children with love and respect. We always took the time with them to show them right from wrong and it has paid off in so many ways. We were lucky we had the time to devote to teaching such important lessons. We live in a rather small county and I love seeing how they have become caring, smart young adults. Unfortunately there is just not enough time in the education system today for such important lessons.

  10. I think my older brother may be on the autism spectrum.
    He has always preferred to be off by himself and does not tolerate commotion and drama. As a kid he was so involved with sports and seemingly got along well with other kids in that setting. Otherwise, he is very socially awkward. He has remained a bachelor all his life and always a rigid schedule with work and house chores, etc.
    now that he is retired I have no idea how he is managing with his time. He no longer does sports of any kind, not even bowling. He watches TV and reads. Never travels further than the grocery store. He will make brief eye contact at times. He has been ridiculed by the family all his life for his behavior. It wasn’t until about 10 yrs ago
    as I heard and learned more about autism that I began to think maybe that is what he may be dealing with. For me, as I am aging, I think I am a cross between ADHD & Autistic. Sensory intolerance is a biggy with me with me. Noise (especially noise!) , hot, cold, fabrics of most clothes are uncomfortable and I don’t want anyone touching me! I don’t want people around, really could care less about social events and yet I can’t stay focused on tasks to get anything done. Not even things that I would enjoy! Or it could be frustration and depression. Who knows. Maybe all of it. I am certainly not the way I used to be. Life is a mystery and we are all different.

  11. There are several areas of special education that have been found since I completed my masters in special ed in 1976. One is autism. I have taught numerous children with each of them. Most are certainly interesting and extremely intelligent. They need to develop trust first. Then being consistent and calm are of the utmost importance.
    In the early days of special ed, girls who were pregnant were included for instruction. Their parents had to agree. How things have changed!
    Brenda, your comments have been important to me. Take care.

  12. Wow, interesting today Brenda! It makes u stop and think bc I had no idea there’s alot of famous ppl that has asd.
    Have a great weekend everyone!

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