Invisibility – the Superpower.

If you could have a superpower,  what would it be?  To fly?  Read minds?  Super
Strength?  Or would you want to be invisible?

Did you know that in physics, scientists have actually come up with a fabric that can make stuff invisible?  Yes, it’s true!  Bending photons,or light, scientists have been able to cloak objects to make them appear invisible.  The future seems to hold some magic, if you really look.

Invisibility is often used to describe autism, because there is no overt, physical difference between a child with autism and a “normal” (neurotypical) child.  As a result, people not “in the know” can, and often do, misinterpret unusual behavior by a child who has autism, as simple bad behavior, bad parenting or, most often, both.  This frustrates me as the parent of a child with a disability. In addition to dealing with the disability itself, I often find myself having to explain, defend or ignore the ignorant and their hostile looks and attitude.

Nice Bling...

I was thinking about the concept of invisibility today and how it affects the lives of my son and I.  It actually is not always a negative concept.  When I think of being invisible as a superpower, I think of making myself invisible.  I could sneak in and steal the Hope Diamond or watch a concert standing on stage.  I could stand on the court at the NBA playoffs, or get in anywhere and get away with it!  How sneaky and fun!

Seeing what he wants to see.

But instead of making myself invisible, what if I could tune out all the noise of a crowd, or the fear of standing in front of a large group, by making others invisible?  In a lot of ways, my son has this superpower. He can tune out the world and focus on where he wants to be.  His world is, generally a happy place.  He often focuses in his imagination (yes, I said his imagination) on racing cars, wanting to be a race car, wanting to dance, sing or be a character inside one of his favorite cartoons.  He may not say the words for the ideas in his head, but it’s quite clear to me, that he has many fanciful tales going on in there, by the few exclamations and words that do come out from time to time.

He often uses “tuning out” as a mechanism to soothe himself in situations of discomfort.  At school, he may not look fearful or stressed, but he will be off, somewhere else, or not responsive. He has, in those instances and, in essence, made the rest of the world invisible.  It takes some time to bring him back.

What the rest of the world may see as a manifestation of a disability, I can see as a bit of a talent.  A protective shield from instances of cruel behavior by others.  A soothing and coping mechanism.

Maybe everyone else is disabled and my son is onto something.  Focus leads to discovery; to in-depth knowledge; innovation; and genius.  Making the rest of the world invisible is part of having “drive”.  And is real success measured by that friendly, social guy down the street or the guy who has the superpower to make the rest of the world invisible when he needs to?  I’m thinking the latter.

The superpower I would choose would be compassion.  Because that is what I think it takes to make it through life – an understanding, a give and take.  It saves an awful lot of resentment.  Craig T. Nelson  


About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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10 Responses to Invisibility – the Superpower.

  1. “What the rest of the world may see as a manifestation of a disability, I can see as a bit of a talent. A protective shield from instances of cruel behavior by others. A soothing and coping mechanism.”
    As a paralegal and loving law I have to see what you write. Your son is on to something! My daughter is now 17-and growing up she was ADHD and I was a single mom. What many thought of her as a non stop talker or show off, was talent. Today she wants to be a graphic designer on the computer and her talents are just beyond what I would of expected as her mom. I am so proud of her. Your son can teach the world so many things. Thanks for this.

  2. Now we just need to get T to remember to use his superpowers for good and not evil.

    “Hey, T. I said stop it! Stop turning me invisible!”

    “Oh wait… I’m back again.”

    “Hey! You made me invisible again…. OK. Now you’re just messing with me!”

  3. Monica says:

    Good Morning, Karen! One of my “rituals” lately is reading your blog every morning before getting ready for work. I like your writing and insight and always feel less alone on this new journey with my little boy. Thank you for sharing with all of us! Please don’t stop.

  4. Jim W. says:

    Don’t forget the lessons that Gyges’ ring taught us! Invisibility corrupts!!!

  5. Aspie Mom says:

    You’ve got his number! And if one does have a spiky intelligence, and one finds work in that area, and one NEEDS to go “invisible” for a few hours a day, it can be financially quite lucrative! We can get paid REALLY well to do something that feels SO GOOD!
    This is one of many, many reasons that a lot of autistics would not consider becoming typical.

  6. Lizbeth says:

    I’d love to tune out some people right now. Not you guys, the real lifers. T is on to something. I think he’s teaching me a thing or two. 🙂

  7. Lana Rush says:

    I like the way you think, Karen. It’s a good way of turning what many think is a negative into a positive. As for my chosen superpower? I would love to have multiples of me – running the errands, cooking supper, unloading the dishwasher… while the “real” me is laying on the couch, reading or playing with the kids. Is that considered a superpower??

  8. Tessa says:

    What a fabulous post! I can especially relate to becoming invisible in the classroom, as my son often does the same thing. His teachers can’t seem to understand that no amount of ADHD medicine in the world will keep him “tuned in.” Believe me, we tried. I like how you turned it into a super power instead of a negative thing.

  9. ElizOF says:

    You bring up great questions on the subject… maybe your son is onto something… 😉
    I love that Craig Nelson quote… It fits perfectly. 🙂

  10. You touched me with this post. It is exactly how I feel about my son. And yes, he may have difficulties and inappropriate behaviour, but as you said, he has an awful lot of focus and strengths, all our kids do in different ways. I’m not in any way familiar with in-depth research about autism. I’m still just struggling to get a grips on and help with my son’s tiny piece of the whole picture, but I like to think of ASD as a recent part of human evolution. We may not see it yet, and it may still present itself in a very disorganized fashion within the population, but I am sure there is a “purpose” for it, just like there was an evolutionary “purpose” for people having sickle cell anemia (like the book Survival of the Sickest).

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