I do. In fact, I don’t just believe in it… I live my life in a constant state of a kind of magical joy that most adults seem to leave behind in childhood. I find reasons to be excited in everything from trips to the post office (I like to check out what new prints they have for packing options) to working on my Master’s thesis (which allows me to write about my favorite topic). There are reasons for joy in the smallest of experiences. Even when something seems like less than a fun thing to accomplish, I find something to make it fun: Cleaning the litter box isn’t so unlike a treasure hunt, complete with sand, while having to do the most necessary of laundry items in the kitchen sink is a great opportunity for sensory fun. After all–bubbles!
At 26, it’s uncommon for people to ask me what grade I’m in, and while I certainly look young, I think a lot of the reason people estimate my age so incorrectly is because my sense of magic, which is hard to hide, is something we usually associate with children. It’s very rare to find a typical adult who shares my immense pleasure in Disney characters, but I have met a higher proportion of spectrum adults who do. I like to connect with friends who share not just my interests but also my tendency to practically levitate at every good thing that comes our way.
Many typical adults (and this applies in every bit the same capacity to adults who are quite familiar with the spectrum) can’t reconcile magic with intelligence. How can someone be finishing graduate school but spend her free time with Frozen and VeggieTales? They seem to think that academic interests necessitate free time spent in strictly-business pursuits. The truth is that you are also quite likely to find me studying up on the history of the English language, the latest neuroscience findings in relation to autism, or even the nitty-gritty details about the discovery of the Denisovan bones a few years back. I’ve met typical adults who enjoy typically-childhood interests in a collecting, informational sense, but that’s not what I’m talking about; I still feel much like most 6-year-old girls feel when they walk through Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World for the first time.
But, it’s also important to remember that I’m not a child. It irks me when I hear reports of a child who “has the mentality of a 3-year-old,” for example, because, unless he is a 3-year-old, then it’s not true. Regardless of the fact that (some of) my interests are much more common with young children, and regardless of the fact that my body language and clothing style and lack of fancying up my hair and face make my image reflect someone ten years younger than I am, it doesn’t mean that I have the mentality of… well, of anybody but me. I have lived for 26 years, and that means that I have 26 years’ worth of experience in this life. In some ways, I have spiritual insights that most 60-year-olds haven’t grasped. In other ways, I’m happier watching Disney than the most popular TV shows. I can write a thesis but not cross the street by myself, and run my own personal hospital out of my studio apartment but go into overload at grocery store checkouts. My mentality might be unusual, and it might reflect an uncommon pattern of strengths and weaknesses, but it’s mine, which means it’s real, which means it’s a valid way of being.
But it’s hard for people to understand. They think that, if I have the intelligence to do such-and-such, that I must also understand that the magic can’t be real. I do, and I don’t. I have serious health issues, and I’ve spent a great deal of time in hospitals. In children’s hospitals, child life specialists work hard to bring therapeutic fun right to the kids. There are play rooms, and bright colors, and if kids are inpatient during a birthday or holiday, the celebrations come to them. In my world, birthday parties are a given, and stuffed animals have a draw I can’t resist. In a way, I still need those things, but I’m supposed to understand that they’re for kids, and I’m an adult now. And, as I said, that’s true–I am. But I’m an adult who still believes in magic, and it’s heartbreaking when I realize how not okay that is in our world. After all, I think it would be downright hard to find a grown-up who wouldn’t be excited if hit with a little unexpected magic in their lives, and the only consequence of bringing magic to adults would be a world with more joy.
I can’t see anything wrong with that!