The Advantage of Some Autistic Traits

Nadia Shanab | Uncategorized
11 Apr 2013

Here is one bright side of autism.


A student has difficulty spacing her words and numbers when writing. I keep telling her that her sentences and paragraphs looks like one single word of a string of letters. She also does the same with number. Her handwriting becomes almost illegible when all the letters and numbers are sticking to each other.

As she was doing math I asked her to use up all the available space to write the answer. She wrote the answer (the numbers) in her regular-size handwriting then wrote the last number in a gigantic size to fill in or use up all the remaining space.

I had to laugh at myself. The students followed my directions very thouroughly and used up all the space, but how?

I forgot to tell her that all the numbers (or letters) should have the same size. Why did I assume that all the numbers should be of the same size?

1- I realized that I should have put myself in her place. We are trying to teach our students taking perspective and forget about ourselves.

2- Being so literal is a great value that we, parents and educators, should take advantage of. This quality can be used in jobs that require accuracy, precision, and treating every detail at the same level of importance (like programming, woodworking,…).

3- Shouldn’t neurotypically developed (off the spectrum) people learn about how the autistic mind works, and be able to cooperate and work with them?

4- Always listen to the autistic reasoning, there is a great logic behind it. I learned a lot from these great minds.


Another high-functioning student used to pull her hair always in the same particular spot. To help her stop this behavior I told her that she is going to have a bald spot on her head forever. The student took my words literally and stopped pulling her hair for good.

Being literal is not always a bad thing.

Take your cues from the children, they will help you find an answer to your question.

nadia shanab

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