Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

Redefining Fun for Autistic Adults

Our neurotypical culture holds a pretty narrow view on what constitutes fun. Most depictions of “fun” include a group of people doing something together. Some examples include:

  • Sitting around and talking and laughing with a group

  • Going to parties

  • Playing games in a group

  • Getting drunk with others

  • Dancing with others

  • Doing something reckless with a group

  • Going on adventures with people


In contrast, activities done alone are seldom depicted as “fun.” They’re shown as solitude, obsession, or some other emotion.

  • A peaceful walk on the beach

  • A possessed painter who stays up late into the night making his next painting

  • A workaholic who works too much outside of work

  • A solitary knitter who quietly makes her next creation while watching a show


They’re seldom depicted as fun.


Before I knew I’m autistic, I thought I needed more people in my life to have more fun. I thought I needed to find people willing to do the hobbies and random passions that I have. I knew I could peaceful or content on my own … but fun?! That took people.


Turns out though, it doesn’t. It simply takes reframing fun.


Since learning I’m autistic, I’ve experimented with letting myself enjoy and do the things I want to do more and more. That means spending more and more time pursuing my special interests and whatever other random thing my mind thinks might be fun. The more and more I do, the more and more I enjoy my time.


Autistic Art Therapist Jackie Schuld shares a collage of pictures that show people and creatures having fun to themselves
"Fun All by Myself" Collage by Jackie Schuld

It suddenly dawned on me recently, when I wrote a letter to the emotion Joy, that I have a lot of fun by myself. Not just peace. Not just contentment, but actual fun.


It fills me with joy to dance along to Just Dance App, music blasting through my noise canceling headphones and my dog staring at me with utter confusion.


I experience delight, wonder, and happiness as I search through old books and find images that speak to exactly what I’m feeling. I rip them out with joy and tuck them away for future art projects.

I get extremely excited to gather all of my favorite food, position it perfectly in front of me, and binge watch a great show.


I enjoy experimenting with different kinds of sensory stimulation, and often laugh to myself as I walk around with a hot mask strapped to my head.


I get filled with joy when I know I have time to take a nap.


I deeply enjoy doing my budgeting and putting everything in the right place (shout out to the app You Need a Budget).


All of these things are FUN. When I let go of neurotypical standards of fun, I realize I have a lot of fun in my life.

  • Fun can be exploring by yourself.

  • Fun can be reading a wonderful book.

  • Fun can be taking a hike by yourself.

  • Fun can be gathering all of your favorite things.

  • Fun can be making something.

  • Fun can be whatever excites you, regardless of whether others are present or not.

Fun can be SO MANY THINGS and we get to determine that for ourselves.

 

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read more, sign up for my FUNletter. If you would like to explore your autistic identity with an autistic therapist, you can learn more about my therapy services here.

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