Posted by: E (The Third Glance) | May 12, 2013

Academia and Autism: Autism Acceptance Part 3

I know it’s no longer April, but Autism Acceptance is not a month-long thing, and I’ve been super overwhelmed with work and everything else in my life (I’m [hopefully] about to become a PhD candidate – just 3.5 more weeks until my exam). So I thought I would continue this little series on and off for a while. The first two Autism Acceptance posts are found here and here.


Sometimes it’s the things that people do that make you know they really get you. I just wanted to share a couple little vignettes about what autism acceptance can look like, even in a professional (if you could call my world-class institution “professional”) setting.


The other day, I was sitting with one of my committee members discussing a part of my thesis. We were chatting about some mathematical equations involved with the project, and as I could see where he was going, I started filling in what he was pointing out, to show that I understood him. Then I made a really neat leap of logic. I was really excited by it, and I bounced in my chair and flapped my hands a little. The professor grinned, and said “wow, that’s brilliant!”, then he flapped a little bit back, and we resumed discussion of the project.


My advisor and I have worked together for several years, and we get along really well. He’s one of the main reasons I went to the particular PhD program I am in. I can tell tons of stories like this about him, but this one is one of my favorites. Last year, around this time, I was preparing for my first-year oral exam. I had just undergone my mock examination, during which 5 older students had impersonated the different committee members and interrogated me for an hour and a half. Afterwards, I was debriefing with my advisor. I told him that my biggest bit of feedback was that I needed to stop bouncing on my toes and moving my hands so much. I said “you know how I get when I’m excited or nervous”, demonstrating my hands flapping and twisting, “how I get bouncy and stuff”. And he looked at me, grinned, and responded “Yes, and I think it’s wonderful!”


And THIS is what autism acceptance looks like. Academia is pretty awesome, isn’t it?



  1. good luck on your exam- this must be exciting!

  2. This is my dream for the future of our nation and world. As people like yourself educate the rest of us about the viewpoint of living with autism, may institutions embrace neurodiversity!

  3. Good luck on your exam!

  4. “I know it’s no longer April, but Autism Acceptance is not a month-long thing.”
    I know exactly what you mean, that’s why I got a T-shirt printed to say “I don’t need Autism Awareness, Autism Acceptance will do just fine” and wear it all year round.

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