Spectral Awareness: 8 Quotes From Authors With Autism

Temple Grandin

Editor's Note:

If you’re stirred by these author quotes, amble down our archive for more.

April is Autism Awareness Month, itself a reminder that not all forms of “awareness” are created equally — there is still too much fear and stigma surrounding the condition, which represents a diversity of unique talents and gifts in addition to the difficulties which complicate the kinds of everyday interactions many of us take for granted.

Unfortunately, autism prevention is still mostly wrapped up in concerns about how the condition will limit a child’s potential, even though signs undeniably point toward the important role that individuals on the spectrum have played in society (comfortably or otherwise). Truly, the potential of a such a child growing up today is limitless — and we have plenty of proof in the host of incredible thinkers and authors who’ve written about their own condition, as well as those (such as Patricia Highsmith and Charles Darwin) whom specialists now believe were very likely living and working with some form of autism.

Below are a few quotes in honor of this struggle for acceptance and understanding — offerings a neurotypical person has no excuse for withholding.

Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism, 1995
“In an ideal world the scientist should find a method to prevent the most severe forms of autism but allow the milder forms to survive. After all, the really social people did not invent the first stone spear. It was probably invented by an Aspie who chipped away at rocks while the other people socialized around the campfire. Without autism traits we might still be living in caves.”

John Elder Robison, Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian, 2011
“It does not matter what sixty-six percent of people do in any particular situation. All that matters is what you do.”

Daniel Tammet, Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant, 2006
“No relationship is without its difficulties and this is certainly true when one or both of the persons involved has an autistic spectrum disorder. Even so, I believe what is truly essential to the success of any relationship is not so much compatibility, but love. When you love someone, virtually anything is possible.”

Michael John Carley, Asperger’s From the Inside Out: A Supportive and Practical Guide for Anyone with Asperger’s Syndrome, 2008
“Traveling in other countries is especially fun because others often attribute your differences to the less-stigmatizing idea that you’re like this only because you’re a foreigner.”

Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt, 1952
“What was it to love someone, what was love exactly, and why did it end or not end? Those were the real questions, and who could answer them?”

Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness, 1930
“Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.”

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1871
“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.”

Gunilla Gerland, A Real Person: Life on the Outside, 2003
“They often took a difficulty I had and turned it into an amusing little anecdote. They would take a deadly seriousness, my seriousness, and turn it into a great laugh that they would then let out into the room. What kind of people were they to do that? The amusing anecdote had sharp edges, flew into me and scratched my soul.”