The Bright Side Of Autism That You Haven’t Envisaged
“Even if you don’t remember anything else I’ve said at this workshop, just remember this one thing.”
“People with autism are hugely intelligent. Even if they’re non vocal.
Always presume intellect. Treat them respectfully. I’m convinced as I’ve seen it over the years.”
I heard myself say these words during a recent workshop.
Members of the audience sat up to listen.
Many were parents of children on the autism spectrum. At a deep level, they knew this was true. Despite the turbulence in their lives, they’ve seen sparks of intelligence in their own children.
Some were professionals. They’ve noticed the spark in their students too.
They are also aware of the immense difficulties facing families.
Once back in the hotel room, I reflected on my day.
I remembered saying ‘bye’ to Mohit as I left for the airport.
I asked him to wish me luck. He looked up and smiled and said, ‘Good job.’
I chuckled. I knew it would be a good workshop.
When we reached Kochi, Mr Biju Isaac, secretary of the Autism Club was there to receive us
He mentioned the incredible work undertaken by them to support people on the spectrum and their parents.
He stopped by his home to pick something up.
His wife Deepthi, came out to greet us. So did their 13 year old son, Sam.
I did not notice Sam walking around the car to come and stand by my window.
When I looked up, I turned to see two beautiful, shining eyes looking at me lovingly.
I could almost hear him say, “You’re here! Welcome!”
As soon as I acknowledged his greeting, he went over to his dad’s side.
No words were spoken between us. But I felt the warm welcome.
I knew with Mohit’s send off and Sam’s welcome, the experience in Kochi would be value creating.
I was able to impart the basics of RDI (Relationship Development Intervention).
RDI is based on the latest brain research. It focuses on respectfully empowering the family and the autistic individual.
I met the most wonderful, caring parents who wanted to support their children. And highly qualified professionals who wanted to make a difference to the lives of families.
I can hear your questions about intellect and autism.
If a person can’t even express his needs can he be intelligent?
If he needs help with day to day activities, how do we presume intellect?
If she doesn’t learn the way other children learn how do you say she’s intelligent?
And why are IQ scores so low if a person is intelligent?
My life’s experiences have taught me differently.
Years of living with Mohit and working with my students have changed my perspective.
I’d like to share some of these experiences with you.
I think of how they read my mind and understand my needs.
When I go to work, I try to leave my personal life behind.
I may be struggling with personal issues, but I don my work cloak and get to what needs to be done.
The only issue is… my students see through me.
A little one comes and sit son my lap.
Another walks in to put a comforting hand on my head.
A young man shows me a ‘thumbs up’ to communicate that it will all be good eventually.
And the icing on the cake comes from a young lady, who shouts at the top of her voice, ‘I love Kamini.”
What more could I ask for?
They encourage me to give it my best shot and to be fully present.
Because they are fully present.
I watch them immersed in their work.
I watch a video of the master chef. He handles his ingredients with love and respect. And full concentration. Nothing deters him from his work and he comes up with the most delicious meals.
I watch the artist painting. He chooses mesmerizing shades and I look in awe as he plays with a plethora of colors with a variety of brushes and textures.
He creates beautiful, mesmerizing paintings.
When I ask him to look at his completed masterpiece, he barely glances at it, says ‘finished’ and moves on to the next piece.
He’s completely detached from his work.
What kind of intelligence this is?
It’s rooted in awareness but doesn’t require words.
It’s from a different dimension.
I don’t want to underplay the difficulties parents of autistic children and adults go through. I go through it too.
It stares us in the face. It’s dense. And it’s real. It’s easier to focus on the difficulties we go through rather than the immense love and giftedness which is much more subtle and difficult to see.
Unfortunately, the negativity consumes our thoughts and life.
We try to ‘fix’ autistic people and make them more normal.
Dr. Patrick V. Suglia is autistic. This is what he says in his book, The Doctor is In.
Because of the way our brain processes information, we need to learn how to do things on our own accord and in a different way. We need to repeat things over and over and over again until we get them right. When we finally get it, we are not only good, we can be great! We may outperform the neurotypicals who are dong the same things. Why? Because our intuition allows us to see the elephant in the room when others can’t. We can find better ways. We become very efficient, self- sufficient. We are “absorbed by our own self”: we are AUTISTIC.
He goes on to say:
I got to where I am in life because of mentors, or “guardian angels” as I call them. Every person with autism needs a mentor.
Over to you, dear Friend.
Are you willing to be a mentor to your child or student?
What’s stopping you from fulfilling your destiny?
It’s time to step up and embrace your role.