MY DAD ACCOMPANIED me to D.C., helping me move into intern housing on Capitol Hill. After two days, he left—and I was on my own without any adults for the first time in my life.
As my internship unfolded, it proved to be the first time my voracious love of politics and policy no longer made me a social outcast—but was instead celebrated. During Q&As, professional-development group meetings, or casual conversations, my knowledge of politics was seen as an asset. It made me at minimum a curiosity and at best someone who could impress my superiors at work and my fellow interns. They liked that I knew random facts about members of their congressional delegation or about the focus of their respective offices.
Washington is a place where obsessions about particular policies, or politics in general, can advance careers; in that sense, it’s a good place for those on the spectrum. But living and functioning in Washington also comes with particular difficulties. This is a city built on networking, and when I first got here, I was very reluctant to do it. It wasn’t until my roommates—also White House interns—started inviting me to parties or brunch dates with our colleagues that I began feeling safe in social settings.