I want to blog more about Autism, but I’ve been having difficulty deciding what specific topics to talk about, what parents and guardians of autistics need to know and so on. But tonight I’ve decided to just sit in front of my laptop and write down what comes to mind.
A hobby of mine when I was young was to take cut-outs from video game magazines. I used to think I was alone in this until I heard of another autistic kid who had the same hobby. I think it started as a way of taking a world I was familiar with and manipulating the characters and objects into something of my own creation. Later on it became an organizational tool. It was the easiest way to organize imaginary tournaments, (I mainly cut out characters from fighting games).
The kid that I’d heard about had actually borrowed the magazine from someone, cut out some pictures, and then gave it back to them. He didn’t realize that the changes he made to it would still be there once the magazine was returned. That’s something else this kid and I had in common. I had once borrowed a book from the library and drew on it with a marker, assuming it would go back to normal once returned. We ended up keeping the book, but it was a while before I was allowed to borrow anything else.
Anything that could be manipulated was a useful tool for me as a child. Lego was a big deal for that reason. The ability to create is very important to me. That’s why video games with customizing options are so exciting – it’s two of my favourite things in one package.
Organizing in and of itself has become a hobby as well. I don’t know why, but it’s just fun to organize. I understand people with aspergers are occasionally hired to organize items in store shelves. Cut-outs were something I organized as a kid. In recent years I got into collecting and organizing Pokemon trading cards as a hobby. Now I also organize songs into playlists on my laptop. The possibilities are endless.
In her book Nobody Nowhere, Donna Williams describes her own need to organize as a reflection of her need to know that everything has a place, as it gives her hope that she has a place in this world as well. At the time she wrote it she was diagnosed as “high-functioning” autistic. Her words make sense, I often wonder how I fit into the social groups I find myself in. But despite often feeling like I don’t have a purpose in a group, people seem to like having me around.
The desire to organize may also be a reflection of the need to bring order out of chaos – but that seems too fluffy.