Adulting for Autistics: Not Leaving Childish Things Aside

Happy Halloween, everybody!!

I LOVE Halloween!  I love everything about it, from decorating and jack o’lanterns to dressing up and trick-or-treating.  Classic monster movies, Vincent Price features, and Tim Burton flicks are in heavy rotation all month long at my house.  It’s my favorite time of year!

But I’ve been told that I’m “too old” for Halloween.  Apparently, this holiday is “just for kids” and it’s “childish” for me to get so into it.  But nobody says a word when NT adults get this excited and go overboard about Christmas, now do they?

Every year about this time, I start thinking about the pressure autistic adults get to leave childish things aside and “grow up”.  We’re constantly told to stop “acting like a child” and give up things we love because they’re “kid stuff”. 

Pardon my language, but screw that!

It’s OK to Love What You Love

Who here still loves cartoons as an adult? 

I sure do.  I watch Looney Tunes all the time and I will always love Animaniacs.  Perhaps you’re a diehard Disney fan.  I’m not ashamed to admit I sing “Let It Go” at the top of my lungs in the car.  Maybe you love Pokemon or Dragonball Z.  Those aren’t my thing, but if they’re yours, awesome!  If your toons bring you comfort or make you happy, that’s great!  It doesn’t hurt anyone, and nobody has the right to tell you to stop. 

We all have our special interests, too, and for lots of us, those include some “childish” things.  Some people have a great love for Lego, others collect comics or action figures.  Many people who are into Anime draw beautiful art themselves. 

And somehow it’s not “childish” when NT adults go nuts for Disney characters or collect Barbies.  (Maybe that only happens here in the South?  I’m not sure, but I’ve known several women who keep Special Edition Barbies in boxes and have Mickey Mouse plastered all over their homes.)     

My point is that you don’t need to “grow out of” loving whatever it is that you love. 

If It Makes You Happy…

As the song says, “if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad”.  If it brings you joy, then it’s worthwhile, regardless of what anyone else says.  You shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed about anything you love. 

For example, I’m devoted to Harry Potter because those books saved my life and the movies gave me a new way to experience the world I loved.  I know my house (Ravenclaw!), my favorite Hogwarts classes (Herbology and Potions), and I know that I would have been in Ginny Weasley’s year.  To some people, this is a sad obsession for a woman in her 30s – but it brings me so much happiness, I don’t care.

Be True to You

Loving your passions out loud and proudly is part of being your true self.  It helps you drop the mask and live authentically as an autistic adult.  That’s good for your mental health and well-being, plus its easier than keeping the mask in place all the time.

Don’t be afraid to enjoy things and don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t love.  What makes you happy is nobody’s business but your own and you have the right to your passions, however “childish” they may be. 

Besides, who wants to be a complete grown-up, anyway?  Isn’t it more fun to keep some of that childlike wonder and excitement?

The rise of nerd culture into the mainstream has made me think that NTs have been giving us crap about our “childish” joys because they were ashamed to publicly enjoy their passions for comics or cartoons or movies or whatnot.  Some of the pressure they put on us has lessened in the last few years, and it’s gotten a bit easier for autistic adults to hold onto our “childish” loves without shame.

Don’t let someone else’s shame keep you from what makes you happy.  You can be an adult without leaving childish things aside.

Now excuse me while I go get into my costume and light my jack o’lantern so I can watch The Nightmare Before Christmas while eating candy!

Adulting for Autistics Not Leaving Childish Things Aside

Have you been told to “grow out of” something you love?  Do you have a special interest that people think is childish?  Have you ever felt ashamed of loving something because you were told you were “too old” for it?  What do you love, loudly and proudly, in spite of what people think?

Bonus question: What’s your favorite Halloween movie?   

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6 Comments

  1. Adelaide Dupont

    November 1, 2019 at 7:18 am

    My favourite Halloween movie is probably the first season of Stranger Things.

    When I was a little girl I loved Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin and also lots of paper cutouts like Hans Christian Andersen.
    A little later there was Beetlejuice with Tim Burton.

    1. Grace

      November 1, 2019 at 7:52 am

      I LOVE Stranger Things! And, as I said, I’m a big Tim Burton fan.

  2. Jamie

    November 1, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Maybe it’s the area of the country I live in or the people I’m around but all of my friends and I enjoy “childish” things and I don’t really see anyone having issues with it. Seems quite “normal” these days. I mean adult coloring books are everywhere! We love cartoons, I’m still a Harry Potter girl (like you, it was lifesaving for me and inspiring a life long love of books), my partner has a whole bookshelf filled with toys and most of our friends have more than him, we play a ton of games and are just generally goofy and we have fun! I’m sorry you’ve dealt with that! I like not getting a diagnosis as an adult, looking young, and not presenting as obviously autistic these days has helped. Do what you enjoy! Those people judging you are missing out, limiting themselves and trying to limit you.

    1. Grace

      November 1, 2019 at 9:56 am

      Like I said, I think the rise of “nerd culture” into the mainstream has given everyone – NT and ND alike – more room to love what we love out loud and unashamedly. I love that people aren’t afraid to have fun with games or toys or whatever it is they like.

      Side note, do you suppose J.K. Rowling knows how many people have stories like ours about her books saving us?

  3. Barbara from Boston

    November 3, 2019 at 3:51 am

    I am 68 years old. Halloween is my favorite holiday9 actually its the only holiday i even like0. I suppose i am NT, despite over a dozen traumatic brain injuries, the first @ less than 1 years old. my costume was a headband of alternating red and black silk roses with an attached mantilla featuring spider webs, spiders and other bugs. This was accompanied by a fake blood necklace. Had a great time. Just continue to be yourself. Haters are gonna hate. To quote Anne of Green Gables “you are a kindred spirit.” Enjoy life. You are aptly named.

    1. Grace

      November 3, 2019 at 8:09 am

      Thanks, Barbara! Your costume sounds awesome! Happy Halloween (a little late, but who cares) and thanks for reading.

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