Guess What? We Grow Up, by The Autistic Prepper

It was good to read about dealing with autistic children and their special needs in survival situations, and I’d like to thank Grey Woman for her article. There have been articles about the elderly, the physically handicapped, those with dementia, but we on the autistic spectrum have been largely ignored. Our differences are too bizarre for most people to understand.

Adult With Autism; We Grow Up

Let me introduce myself. I’m an adult with autism, and I’m also a fervent SurvivalBlog reader and occasional contributor. I also like to watch water going down a drain, insist that my egg be on the right side of my plate, and relax by studying the structure of the knotholes in our paneled den. “Quirky” is putting it mildly.

Prefer “Difference”

Incidentally, I never really liked calling what I am a “disorder”; I prefer “difference”. For some reason, no one understands, my brain works differently from that of other people. Human brains, like human faces, are very different. It’s doubtful Mozart could have written “Hamlet”, and I doubt Shakespeare could have dreamed up the prototype helicopter da Vinci designed. The autistic brain is just different. Sometimes this difference is good; sometimes it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant for me and those around me.

If you ever meet me, you won’t perceive anything unusual. I’m good at hiding my differences. Besides, I rarely speak to people. I don’t relate well, because I can’t perceive the subtle cues in body language or sometimes even speech. I usually miss jokes, and teasing goes over me like a waterfall. I just don’t get it.


Needless to say, romance is usually difficult for those on the dreaded spectrum. We don’t pick up the verbal and nonverbal cues. Many of us are perfectly happy alone, and I find flirting impossible. I finally found a man who himself has a number of spectrum characteristics, and our marriage has been very happy.


While I can work with others, I prefer to work alone. Despite my academic background, I’m very happy doing trivial, routine tasks, such as the mass mailings I did at one college job. To me, it’s fun to analyze a task and then figure out the quickest and least tiring way to complete it. Routine is a great comforter.

Functioning, I’m Very High

In terms of functioning, I’m very high, especially in verbal ability. I have a Ph.D. from one of America’s best universities. The ACT, SAT, and GRE were a breeze for me. I communicate satisfactorily and politely with others, but the conversations are always superficial. I know others don’t share my interests, so I’ll probably talk about the weather. I’m aware that other people have little interest in Akhenaten and the Amarna period, the social effects of the bubonic plague, motion study, Pliny the Younger, prime numbers, canine evolution and intelligence, or Tudor England. The entire universe interests me, but the usual adult topics of clothes, TV shows, sports, and general gossip are boring torture for me.

Love to Rock

I love to rock and, for many years, did it from two to five hours a day, happily creating imaginary worlds in my mind. License plates fascinate me. I’m always looking for interesting combinations of letters and numbers, particularly primes. I enjoy imitating other people’s handwriting and analyzing the pattern of tiles, concrete blocks, or other objects in a room.


Eating is a major problem. I prefer to eat at home. While I like the food from several restaurants, I don’t want to eat there. Restaurants have too many people, too many things hanging on the wall, too much talking, and too much loud music. All that equals serious sensory overload. That’s why I’m usually in the carry-out line. New foods are a challenge, and without tactful urging I stay away from them. My husband was stunned when he learned that, at the age of 39, I had never eaten a pizza.


Travel is a nightmare. I only feel safe in my home and don’t want to be away overnight, even though I have an excellent bug-out bag in case my house someday becomes an unsafe place. We plan to bug in if SHTF. However, I’m very aware that short-term events can necessitate leaving. I’ll just have to deal with it.

One of the best ways to deal with it is to mentally escape, which is why I usually have books handy. The books I keep in the car are all familiar favorites. I like the familiar; knowing what’s going to happen is like being wrapped in a warm, fuzzy blanket. I rarely read fiction. Instead, I prefer history and science.


Meltdowns aren’t just for children. I still have them, and they aren’t fun. Fortunately, they don’t happen very often. I know what can trigger these monsters and avoid those situations whenever possible. If I do start melting, I go in my room and shut the door until it’s over.

Eccentric Things

I do many small, eccentric things, which go unnoticed. I constantly wiggle my fingers, tie knots in my hair, sway back and forth, and flap when I become tense. In public I try to keep the swaying and flapping to a minimum. At home, I relax and do what comes natural. If it doesn’t hurt me or anyone else and isn’t illegal, I figure there’s no problem.

I Analyze Trivial Events

I don’t think the way other people do. I’m constantly analyzing, studying, thinking, and coming to my own conclusions. What I analyze is usually related to trivial events in life. For instance, a spider who walked on my hand elicited a loud scream and then a thorough analysis: Why had I screamed? It was an instinctive, unplanned action, so its origin must lie deep in human evolution.

I imagined my female ancestors of 20,000 years ago out gathering berries. Suddenly one member of the group saw a dangerous animal. She screamed. What good did this do? It depends. If the animal was small or somewhat shy, the noise might scare it away. The sound would certainly draw the attention of her friends, who might come to her aid. Even if they didn’t help and she got eaten, her warning scream might enable them to escape, thus perpetuating the gene pool of the group. There was a lot of thinking for one little spider event.

Wouldn’t Want To Change

While what I am is sometimes viewed as a handicap, I wouldn’t want to change. If there was a pill that would suddenly make me “normal”, I’d reject it. My opinion of normality isn’t high. Normal people, in my experience, are too limited and boring.

Place in Survival World

Do I have a place in the survival world? I hope so. Some morning after TEOTWAWKI, as we all crawl out of our holes, I’ll come out, too. I’ll be the oddball who has unusual ideas and knows unexpected things. I’ll probably flap with anxiety. But I’ll bring a great harvest of knowledge, unexpected skills, great creativity, and a determination to see freedom survive.

I’m just a little different. Autism grows up.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 76 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Round 76 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. My limited knowledge of people on the autism spectrum seems to follow your story, and in the new world, your ideas and thoughts will not only be welcomed, but also, essential. God bless!

  2. Wonderful article. Thank you for the education and insights. Sometimes “different” can be a marvelous voyage of discovery if you are willing to open your mind and heart. All of us could learn a lot from you.

    1. Kind of brings attention to the fact that autism is not an often published consideration in prepping. Many autistic folks would prefer to survive a SHTF event, the author being one of them.

      I remember a recent TV show where the young lady says, “You feel sorry for me because I’m different, I feel sorry for you because you’re all the same.”

    2. Kind of brings attention to the fact that autism is not an often published consideration in prepping. Many autistic folks would prefer to survive a SHTF event, the author being one of them.

      I remember a recent TV show where the young lady says, “You feel sorry for me because I’m different, I feel sorry for you because you’re all the same.”

    3. I think what she is getting at is that thinking from a different viewpoint maybe an asset in a collapse. A common term would be “thinking outside of the box”.

      I have some of these characteristics so I can relate. I think a strength that we have is that we have studied ourselves from a very early age and are very aware of our limitations as Dirty Harry might say, It is hard for most to confront their weaknesses so those of us with autisium are ahead in this area.

  3. Thanks for the insight, I’ve come to realize that I relate more to you than many of the “normal” people. I have often been told “you’re not normal”….I look around at society and see what is taken as “normal” and say, “thank you for the compliment”….

  4. Thank you for the informative and revealing article. Nature goes by its own laws, and that includes a sprinkling of fascinating diversity. In times to come, a person who can think out of the box, as it were, could come up with an idea that will save an entire community. One thing I’ve learned from a lifetime of experience is that in a group situation, EVERY person in that group contributes something unique and necessary to the functioning of the group.

    I am much closer to the end of life than the beginning, so my physical strength and endurance are not what they once were. But, like you, I have been paying attention and analyzing, and observing patterns, and investigating anomalies, and thinking out of the box in my own way, for a lifetime. I remember my grandmother’s stories, who was born in the late 1800’s, who lived through the Spanish flu epidemic, the two World Wars, and became a widow with five children to support at the beginning of the Depression. My mom was born when Model T’s were new, in a house with no electricity or indoor plumbing. Polio and smallpox loomed over everyone. People starved to death, poverty was the norm. I carry the echoes of all that knowledge and experience, the lessons learned, the determination to go forward in spite of trials.

    We all bring our own unique contribution, and survival will demand that we utilize every scrap of knowledge, wisdom, and ability from EACH person in our community.

  5. Thank so much for sharing some very personal information. I have a ten year old son who is autistic. We have fretted a great deal about his future. You have shined a ray of light on what I have been considering a dark place. As a hardened 42 year old man I don’t cry much but I certainly have tears in my eyes right now. I wish you peace and love and happiness for all the days of your life.

  6. Our adult daughter lives with us and she has autism. I am in the field of education and yet she has been my teacher for more than 30 years. I appreciate your article so very much as it is important for everyone to know that everyone has something to contribute. Our daughter has a gift of remembering every name and most details she encounters each day. I rely on her for people’s names as this is not my strength. She is very social but in her own way. Small chit chat is impossible but the love that flows from her is incredible. She connects with the marginalized, lonely, folks with disabilities and those that are often ignored. She does not bat an eye when she feels someone needs attention and will cross crowds to meet and greet a person but ask her to sustain a conversation or make small talk and she cannot do that. She too has learned to keep the most prominent of her needs to the confines of our home where she feels safe. Scripting or saying small phrases are common as is the comfort she receives from watching certain videos over and over again. With all of her unique gifts she has unique avenues for making a difference. In a SHFT situation, she will be the first to comfort those who are anxious and won’t think twice about giving a hug. Her memory for details will be important as we loose reach out and touch resources. We need everyone and will come to rely on those unique difference when the most modern of distractions are not present.

  7. Thank you for your comments. We have a son who is a young adult (19) and we often have a challenging time dealing with his eccentricities. But it is OUR problem, and we know it. We are attempting to teach him that Life does throw you curves – you have to make accommodations for them.

  8. I really appreciate your article! We spend most of our lives trying to be identified as “normal” but I think a lot of us preppers could be called eccentric, anti-social, weird or strange.

  9. Fantastic article! Thank you for sharing your insights about autism from your perspective. To answer the question one of the commenters had about how your article relates to prepping, I’d say for me it helps me have a window into how a person with autism thinks and why, and that it’s not such a scary thing for those who are “normal” to accept. Knowledge is power. I thank you for sharing!

  10. I also am probably slightly on the autism spectrum, though not diagnosed. I figure that it doesn’t really matter. I cope extremely well, I’m just not as good at chit-chat in person as I am online/writing. I have spent a good amount of time with friends who had different disabilities like this. Most of them are incredibly brilliant in what they do. One guy could tell you which day of the week you were born on. And he never, ever forgot a birthday. It was incredible. I have found that my memory for numbers is better than most. And I remember random facts well, though not names as well. I do quite often wonder how some people have so many words to say. I obviously write better, since I have time to formulate my thoughts.

  11. Thank you for your excellent and very thoughtful post. As a number of others have responded, many of us have family members who are diagnosed with autism or other challenges. I hope that we, who hope to survive the worst, can be welcoming and supportive in planning for those who have differences, and can see the Christ in everyone. “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me”

  12. Thank you for the insight. Informative. I have heard it said that “normal” is a setting on your clothes dryer. Don’t invest too much in “normal”.

    . Perhaps you could elaborate more on things the rest of us could be aware of when dealing with autistic folks. I.E. how do we deal with meltdowns and such? Is our trying to be accomodating a help or a hindrance? Thank you for the start of understanding.

  13. Fantastic article. First one here that interested my whole family and made them laugh. This hit home with my daughter. She shares many of these characteristics. Thank you. I would welcome you to my compound.

  14. Thankyou for sharing your heartwarming life with us. You are indeed a beautiful person and we understand the characteristics you have described and the challenges you face. We have three grandchildren [in the same family] with varying degrees of autism. The teenage granddaughter has aspbergers. Her mother has taught her to have beautiful social graces, to work, and lead a full life. She has been on the student council in her school, in school plays and plays the piano amazingly and has been on a competition soccer team for several years. Her 19 year old brother lost all of his speech and eye contact after a series of vaccinations when he was about 18 months old. He had severe streopathic movements, went into rages night and day, threw furniture and could not communicate. His mother worked with him, giving her whole life to bring him back. When he was about 7, he got up in Sunday School and sang the Star Spangled Banner by himself. [I still weep with emotion and gratitude as I write this]. He is now a 6′ 3″ 19 years old–handsome , so loving, polite and kind and working to put himself through college. He is an absolute constitutional conservative and is not afraid to politely and with conviction, take on class mates as they spew the liberalism of today. He understands the perils we live in today and is part of our survival plan. His brother who is 2 years older also is under the autistic umbrella. He is a foreman at his job, putting himself through college and will do anything to help us, his grandparents. [ Both boys have been up on our 2nd story steep pitched roof today shingling.] He is also very much into prepping as he understands the constitutional crisis we are in today and will teach conservatism to those around him. We thank our Lord for these children and wouldn’t have them any other way than they are. God bless all of us who are different–I think that is all of us.

  15. A follow-up article on how best to interact with Preppers with autism would be helpful. I can see a grid-down situation being much more difficult due to all the “non-routine” events, schedules, diets, and other stressors.

    BTW, you do yourself and those around you a disservice by categorizing everyone else as “normal”. Most Preppers are anything but normal. 😉 Everyone has their quirks and oddities if you get to know them well enough.

  16. I often say that autism and ADD are not indicative of a “broken brain”, but are indicative of a “brilliant brain”. Many of our top ER docs and critical care nurses have ADD; some of the most talented engineers I have known fall somewhere along the autism spectrum. The world is a far finer place because of people with these so called “disorders”. Thank you for sharing your story.

  17. Thank you for the article. Maybe one day we will meet. I rarely, aka never, find anyone who is interested in the same things I am. Your list of subjects to talk about is my list. Blessings to you. You made me feel less alone.

  18. Thank you for your story. I too share some quirkiness characteristics. Last night I had to feign interest in my daughter’s description and questioning on why I would avoid a family gathering of @100 people. I too am perfectly happy being in a remote area, away from family and friends with just my wonderful wife and a “quirky” special needs cat. I find comfort in textured things and read voraciously and watch old movies till I can recite dialog. Good on you for being the way you are!

  19. Makes me wonder if ADD / ADHD, “social anxiety”, and other behavioral quirks, in all their ranges, are all part of the fabric of “extended normal” human behavior. I wonder if we, as a society, have defined “normal” too narrowly.
    I have ADD / ADHD, to a lesser degree. I have to concentrate to complete tasks at work, instead of being distracted by “SQUIRREL”! (such as, reading and commenting on this web site).
    My grown daughter has social anxiety, to a degree. It took her forever to get her driver’s license. She never finished HS. When she comes home, she goes down to her basement room and spends most of the rest of the day. She does come up, and go out for various friends and events.

  20. I see why you value freedom so highly. Being who you are, without government or society creating negative connotations or forcing you to conform are the very definition of freedom.

  21. Wow this is so familiar to me, I’m on the spectrum combined with a heavy dose of ADD. I’ve moved to the country now and given up the office job which was pure, unadulterated torture. Luckily I inherited a bit of money which gives me a basic income so I can pursue my life without interference. I haven’t managed to meet a person I can stand to live with, but recently I was invaded by feral cats, and I find they meet my needs for company in the best possible way. Sure the townspeople think I’m ridiculous, but I don’t care. Being able to live your life as you see fit is a real privilege

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