Jessica Penot at Psychology Today:
Huntsville is a haven for geeks just as the Silicon Valley of Silberman’s Neurotribes was. It isn’t surprising that Huntsville has also become a haven for autistic people. When I first opened my private practice, Tree of Life Behavioral Health, in 2015, people in Alabama still viewed autism as a disorder of nonfunctional boys who liked trains. I was high masking at the time and tried very hard to blend in with my neurotypical colleagues. I straightened my hair and tried very hard to master the art of small talk. Despite this, I very quickly noticed that most of my clients were oddballs who shared my passions. They loved dungeons and dragons, board games, horror movies, video games, and comic books. They were largely engineers or artists with passions that consumed them and with remarkable minds that often left me humbled.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that almost all my clients were autistic and that most of them came to me because of my weirdness and autism, not despite it. My practice flourished because I possessed all the traits, I had spent my life trying to hide. It flourished because Huntsville is a magical place filled with autistic people who are unique and brilliant beyond measure.