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It's a 'feature'

Long ago in a galaxy far far away when I worked as biomedical engineer on medical devices, there was a long standing design inside joke about any unintended design attributes were not mistakes but a 'feature.' Sort of wishful thinking that all design flubs a la 3M glue that wasn't very strong turn into post it notes. I often muse that some of Ethan's more interesting autism quirks are actually 'features.'

So some of the features of Ethan's autism:

1. Ethan doesn't lie. It doesn't occur to him to say something that isn't true. This is of course extremely handy in a child and I like that he'll rat out his younger brother. The flip side is that it has been a chore for us to teach him to be polite and not blurt out things that might hurt other's feelings and also keeping a secret or surprise has been challenging. Still, I'm going with this is a feature.

2. Ethan has an incredible memory. Seriously, you don't have to ask Siri or Google who won the superbowl 6 years ago, what's the order of the next 5 Marvel (MCU) movies and release dates, or what day did we go on that trip to Florida 3 years ago... just ask Ethan. He's also handy at the mall - 'where did I park my car?'

3. Ethan puts everything in its proper place. Imagine a teenager who doesn't lose things... pretty nice, eh?

4. Ethan accepts everyone as just matter of fact without judgment. I noticed this first in elementary school that he treated and reacted to special ed kids even with severe disabilities no differently than general ed kids. He's also rather color blind when it comes to race and ethnicity, but a lot of kids are these days. What reminded me of how different he was recently he told me that he was doing a duet scene with a girl in drama his class. He gave me no other info and I asked how it was going with scene and if she was nice and he said 'It was going well and she was nice.' I met her the other night at a school function and she has Cerebral Palsy and is in a wheel chair (she is also indeed very nice). I found it fascinating that he didn't comment or mention even in passing that 'oh by the way she's the girl in a wheel chair." He doesn't think about differences like that as being important to note. Pretty neat feature.

5. Ethan sees the world differently. It's very refreshing to pay attention to Ethan's perspective on the world around him: people, school, work, life in general. Certainly, evolving as a human you should want to try and see things from other points of view. Ethan's extreme difference sort of forces you into this.

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