By Austin John Jones
Austin: “Alright everybody, time to feel excited! And I mean, REALLY EXCITED!”
Audience: “About what Austin?!”
Austin: “About WHAAAALES!!! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAALES!!!!!”
Have you ever been in this situation? Have you ever felt like you were talking an alien language and nobody else understood? This happens to me all the time. I often feel like people have no idea what I’m talking about and no interest in finding out. People often misunderstand my interests and then tune me out and it makes me feel weird! I imagine this might be hard for anyone, but especially for people on the spectrum! Sometimes it is so hard to get people to understand what really is important to me or that is really interesting to me. Imagine if you watched a really funny YouTube video one night with your friend. And then you went around everywhere quoting the video, but…nobody cared? Nobody understood? Nobody thought it was funny? BUT YOU DID! And it’s like the most important thing in the world to you! This is what I call:
“Over-fascination with random subjects that nobody else cares about.”
Another example is that I like to talk to my mom about video games and Magic the Gathering a lot. But she doesn’t understand my perspective on it. It doesn’t make her feel as awesome as I feel when I experience it. And that can really suck sometimes because even though I know she is trying, I just want her to be super excited; but I can tell she’s not. Even with some of my best friends, I talk about certain subjects and they say, “Austin you are weird!” I don’t think it’s a bad thing being called weird; being weird is fine with me because I love the things I love. But what I realize more and more as I have gotten older is that there is a time and place for everything, I guess; but I don’t always get that right. Sometimes when I am talking on and on about something and no one else says anything, I think “oh, I guess they don’t care.” Sometimes it takes me a long time to figure it out. I can’t always tell that people aren’t interested because I don’t understand the story their faces are trying to tell me.
FOR PEOPLE ON THE SPECTRUM, or at least for me sometimes, I just don’t feel like it is out of place to talk about the things I love and that really interest me. I want the whole world to know how great I feel about my interests and why I like doing them! It feels great to feel that other people love what I love!
I think it’s important to try to understand other people’s perspective, but I know it is hard to do. My dad talks to me all the time about sports, but I don’t really like sports. I keep trying to talk to him about Magic the Gathering and video games but he doesn’t really like those. I keep trying to tell him that people on the spectrum have interests that are different from other people but I don’t really know how to explain it to him.
I had this one student I taught at a summer camp at Carlsbad Art Farm. The student was on the spectrum. He was an amazing kid. And all day, he would talk about this fantasy theme park that was just running through his head. He loved it so much. And I didn’t understand anything he was talking about. But one day, we had the class act as though he was our art director and we drew his fantasy theme park for him. The whole rest of the day, he was SO excited because other people finally acted like they understood what was important to him. It was like getting the best Christmas present ever to him. That’s how awesome it felt to have people understand him.
I know how he felt. Whenever I meet someone who understands what I am talking about when I talk about Magic the Gathering, I feel like the person understands me and knows me and loves me. I think everyone should be able to feel that way, not just people on the spectrum. We should all try to make someone’s most desired dream come true. With mostly positive dreams, this world would be an amazing place.
My Name is Austin. I am an artist. I am an art teacher. I am a gamer. I am a storyteller and a writer. I love my community, I love my friends and family, and I am on the Autism Spectrum. My favorite game to play with my friends is Magic the Gathering. My favorite video game to play is Spiral Knights. I am a Guild Master of my Spiral Knights Guild: Altosk. I am an avid Hearthstone player.My favorite food to eat is Mexican Food. Specifically Carne Asada Fries and California Burritos. I went to Art Center College of Design for college and graduated with a degree in Illustration.
Austin is an artist participant in the Art of Autism’s Diverse Perspectives exhibit at Sophie’s Gallery in Kensington and was on KUSI News this week talking about his art and autism. Readers may also like by Austin John Jones – Functional Freezes, Trauma Reducing Exercises, and Anxiety, Autism and the Resistance to Change, Depression on the Spectrum and how to deal with it.