March 9, 2019

In the movie Tangled, a baby princess sees an emblem in her nursery before being kidnapped. Growing up, she recreates that emblem all over her prison tower, unaware that it represents royalty. When she finally learns its meaning, it causes her to realize that she is the long-lost princess.

Autism is my royalty. Its traits, which were present before I knew what they symbolized, are my emblem.

For example, a classic trait of autistic children is to find delight in lining up toys. I don’t recall ever doing that for its own sake, but I’ve discovered the calming value of many other autistic traits, so I recently decided to give it a try.

I lined up some seeds on a plate. And yeah, it felt nice. It felt like something I could do to take my mind off stress, like popping bubble wrap or swaying to music.

But it did something more. It opened my eyes to notice that I am absolutely surrounded by things that I’ve chosen to line up in a row.

It’s all over my décor – from my colorful storage boxes, to my wall art, to the geometric pattern on my rug.

It’s in so much of the artwork I’ve created, from childhood all the way through adulthood.

It’s in every image that I’ve saved to look at when I need to slow down and breathe.

I sat down, feeling awe at the sudden amount of meaning I was seeing in formerly meaningless things.

I am like a long-lost princess who has already solved the mystery, yet continues to discover new clues.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.