My autism granted me something that is both my greatest strength and greatest weakness: my imagination. From when I was a toddler to when I was in sixth grade, my imagination was powerful but uncontrollable. During those years, I would frequently create imaginary friends and have constant daydreams of their adventures. However, the fact that I could not control my imagination at the time meant it gave me difficulty separating fantasy from reality. Fortunately, at the start of sixth grade, I started to control my imagination with the help of one of my school aides. Over time, I gradually gained more and more control over my imagination. Now, my imagination is honed and refined and always used to write my stories, making it my greatest weapon. A good metaphor for my imagination would be that it started out as a wildfire (powerful yet unstable) and became as focused as a laser. Still, I often think about what it would be like if I could materialize anything I could imagine, which would make life so much easier.
In some anime or manga such as Naruto and Bleach, characters wield a double-edged power, which is a specialized ability that comes with a price. Some double-edged powers increase a person’s physical capabilities at the cost of enduring extreme pain. Other examples grant a person immense power but at the expense of the rest of their powers. A few rare cases can make the wielder virtually invincible, but kills the wielder in the end. In general, the cost of using this ability can come in any form and is often to great to pay. My main character, Patrick Donovan, wields such a power in my third volume and lets just say that the price he pays is so great that he spends the rest of the fight screaming!
A few days ago, I experienced a small taste of what it is like to wield superhuman strength! One of my family’s cars broke down in the garage, which meant that it had to be pushed out of the garage, down the driveway, and onto the curb. So, my dad did the steering and I pushed. The car weighed about 3,000 pounds, which is one and a half tons! As I pushed the vehicle, I could feel such a rush from the exertion and I haven’t felt so alive in a long time! I am going to use this experience as inspirational material for future works whenever I am depicting a character with superhuman strength.
What if you came into contact with an attack that cannot be defended against? There have many examples of attacks that are unstoppable in anime and manga and they come in countless forms. Sometimes an absolute attack can be a sword that can literally cut through anything, even the fabric of time and space. Other times it is a gun that penetrates any barriers that stand between its barrel and its target. On rare occasions, an absolute attack could take the form of a vortex that can swallow up anything and everything exposed to it. Regardless of what form an absolute attack will take, they all epitomize the essence of an unstoppable force. In my fifth volume, I am planning to have one of Vogan’s most powerful minions possess this power. If a supervillain possesses unstoppable offensive capabilities, how will the Young Guardians win against a power they cannot defend against? An interesting thought to consider.
I have noticed that one of the social impairments I suffer to this day due to my autism might possibly affect how I process my emotions. For example, my anger can sometimes be consuming because I do not like anyone to be wronged by evil people. Another example is I can become sad, particularly when it comes to animals. While most of the time, I am incapable of crying and rarely feel sad, I cannot even watch a scene where something bad happens to an animal without going through an emotional breakdown. It remains to be seen whether or not I am capable of feeling romantic love. While I do feel familial love, especially towards my parents, I do not know if I can connect in a romantic relationship. On the other hand, whenever I feel happy and free, especially when I am hanging out with my friends or having a party with family, I can barely contain myself and become a little hyper. Whether or not this has anything to do with my autism is unknown, but it is clear that I can become fixed on a particular emotion for a long time before shifting onto another one.
Some of the common symptoms of autism are repetitive behavior and impaired social interaction. While my autism gives me an above average intellect and strong memory, I am still susceptible to these symptoms and have been since childhood. Interestingly, my repetitive behavior consists of touching the same objects twice and repeating my characters’ dialogue several times until I find a version I like while I am writing. The dialogue is easy to understand, but the touching is a bit more complicated. When I was three my uncontrollable imagination made me think my skin consisted of hooks that would get caught on whatever I touched and the only way I could get uncaught was to touch the same object again. Now that I am a young adult, I am largely over this symptom.
As for my impaired social interaction, making acquaintances was very easy, but making lasting friendships was difficult. In the end, I made four friendships that have lasted more than fifteen years. Those individuals have been my best friends ever since and I based the characters on them. It has been more than a decade since I have made another friend. Fortunately, when I started at Concordia University this semester, I am currently making the first friendships I have made in years. These new friendships are among my peers in my Philosophy and Theology classes and we have been to school events such as the Fall Festival and will attend a Thanksgiving event next week.
Overall, even though I am still susceptible to the common symptoms of autism, I am able overcome these limitations given enough time. In addition, I will continue to master and refine my condition as the years go by.