Five Strengths of Autistic Individuals

When a child has been diagnosed with autism, it may feel like every behavior is being closely observed and documented. We track every move and follow the recommendations from the pediatrician and therapists, and it can be exhausting.

Let’s take some time to focus on the strengths of autistic individuals. Here are the top five strengths I admire most in my clients. 

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A Fine Line Between the World of

Giftedness and Autism

1. Their attention to detail

Yes, a professional might ask about a “red flag,” such as lining up toys, but if we consider the exact detail a child looks at while lining up toys, we might understand its beauty.

Perhaps the child lines them up according to color, performance, preference, or shape. They might be lining the toys up according to a detail that most miss or glance over. 

It is an important fact in their world; we can find out why and engage in or share this interest. I worked with a child who always said a number when he met someone. I asked him what that meant, and he looked at a mole on my arm. 

He counted the moles he saw on people and associated the number with their “name.” It was different from calling someone by their actual name; it was a detail that most would miss and was fascinating. 

This child is now a grownup, and his job is in machine maintenance, which requires attention to minor details.

2. The “black and white” worldview

We work on increasing children’s ability to manage change and being more flexible. This is essential. But what can we take from their way of thinking in absolutes? 

Perhaps their love of a specific activity, toy, or person makes them excellent advocates, politicians, or lawyers. We need all kinds of minds. Neurodivergent individuals can utilize their extreme passion to fuel success in a career based on their interests. 

I worked with an autistic individual who loved the fact that there are rules that govern us all. He has never received a driving fine or broken any laws. He is an excellent social citizen and works in programming (computer sciences).

3. Their hyper-fixations

Many professionals will ask parents about their child’s “obsessions.” I understand that fixating on one toy or item might not motivate someone to explore other areas of life. It will, however, provide you with the opportunity to become an absolute expert in that field. 

Your child’s hyperfixation might be spinning a car’s wheel or looking at objects from the side of their eyes. We can always find ways to expand on these interests.

First, we should accept that their interests differ from those of their peers. Such acceptance can be followed by exposing them to other items, experiences, and activities.

Boy looking at wheels of a toy car

Take the example of spinning wheels and looking at objects from the side of their eyes. You can show your child various wheels of different sizes and shapes for them to see, different textures, and many other ways of spinning the wheels.

Help them find new wheels in stores and create art projects together, where you paint the wheels and then rotate them on paper. 

You can also look at this from the side of your eye and show them they can take photos of their world. This could perhaps open the door to an interest in photography.

We need creative minds to show us a different angle and help us appreciate objects we usually disregard, such as the wheel of a broken toy truck.

4. Their pure and unfiltered honesty

Children will tell you honestly and without judgment whether they approve of a toy, person, or situation. They will state what they see at the moment, unfiltered from what society might deem “appropriate.” 

In a world where we are tempted only to show the bright side of things, especially online, it can be refreshing to find true honesty.

I worked with a child who always told me how tired I looked when I didn’t get enough sleep. “Karla, you look bad.” I had to agree and would ask him what I could do to look better or feel better. 

We created a teachable moment from this experience, and I promised him I would get more sleep and drink enough water. He would rate my appearance daily, less focused on the aesthetics of what I am wearing or the lack of makeup, but rather on the functionality of my energy levels. 

To this day, I remember his honesty very dearly, and I usually go to bed earlier when these truthful confessions surface in my memory. Does your child point out truths? Thank them for their honesty!

5. They communicate differently

About 15 years ago, I watched a video titled “In My Language,” written and created by AM Baggs. She’s an autistic individual who explained her way of communicating with the world.

She is considered “nonspeaking” but types on an AAC device exceptionally well. She did an excellent job of showing how one autistic person’s way of communicating is not only different from everyone else’s but also from other autistic individuals.

She interacts with the world through all her senses: touching water from a tap, listening to different sounds, rubbing her face on a pillow and other surfaces, and tasting things that are not considered typical food.

This video was an excellent reminder that just because most people communicate via words or in conversations, this doesn’t mean that other ways of communicating are wrong. It is just different.  

Finding strengths of autistic individuals

I want to start a challenge. For the next week, when you notice something in your child, and you know the professionals might ask you to redirect this behavior or ignore it, do the opposite – indulge it! 

I understand that it might feel like there will be a behavioral spike, but if you are doing what professionals suggest all the time, a week of giving into your child’s interests and way of doing things might not be the worst idea.

If your child is lining up toys, join them. If they want to play in the water outside, even if it is cold, let them, and perhaps engage in this with them. 

Forget about the targets and goals for a week, and just enjoy your child for exactly who they are. Deep down, inside us all, we might want to be a little more spontaneous and less focused on what we “have to do” this week.

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Q: What are the strengths of autism?

A: People with autism often exhibit strengths such as attention to detail, exceptional memory skills, and the ability to think logically and systematically. Many also possess unique talents and interests, demonstrating creativity and expertise in specific areas.

Q: What is a common challenge for an individual with autism?

A: A common challenge for individuals with autism is difficulty in understanding social cues and norms, which can lead to struggles in social interactions. Additionally, sensory sensitivities can pose daily challenges, as certain sounds, lights, or textures may cause distress or discomfort.

Q: Can autistic people work?

A: Many autistic individuals are fully capable of working. With accommodations and support tailored to their needs, they can thrive in various professions and contribute valuable skills to the workforce.

Q: How can I encourage my autistic child’s special interests?

A: You can encourage your autistic child’s special interests by actively engaging with them, showing interest, and providing opportunities for exploration and learning related to those interests. Incorporating their special interests into daily activities and routines can also help foster a sense of enjoyment and accomplishment.

Q: Do autistic people have good memory?

A: Autistic individuals can have varied memory capabilities, just like neurotypical people. While some may possess exceptional memory skills in certain areas of interest or expertise, others may struggle with memory recall or have difficulties with certain types of memory tasks.


An Expert Discussion on Strengths-Based Approaches in Autism, 2019, Autism in Adulthood, Volume 1, Issue Number 2,

The Strengths and Abilities of Autistic People in the Workplace, 2022, Autism in Adulthood, Volume 4, Issue Number 1,

The autism advantage at work: A critical and systematic review of current evidence, Research in Developmental Disabilities, Volume 105, October 2020, 

Lee, E.A.L., Black, M.H., Falkmer, M. et al. “We Can See a Bright Future”: Parents’ Perceptions of the Outcomes of Participating in a Strengths-Based Program for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 50, 3179–3194 (2020). 


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