What Bollywood (or Hollywood) Won’t Tell You About Autism
Scene 1 : At the mall
He flails his arms and throws himself back as his young mother tries to hold him. Writhing, he gets out of her grip. She runs after him, shouting his name.
Her cheeks are flushed with embarrassment as she glances around to see people watching them. Some shake their heads, disapprovingly. Their body language says, “What a badly behaved child. How come this mother doesn’t know how to handle her own child?”
My heart sinks.
Scene 2: At the park
There is a commotion.
A long line of little kids accompanied by their mothers or helpers wait for a turn on the swing, builds up.
A pretty 4-year-old girl refuses to get off. No coaxing or cajoling helps.
The impatience rises as the line gets longer. Eventually, the mother tries to force her off the swing. The child screams piercingly, loudly.
I can almost hear the adults tsk tsking… shaking their heads in disapproval again.
And again my heart sinks.
Are these children badly behaved? Have their mothers failed in bringing them up?
I know these families. Their children have Autism.
In the examples above, both mothers try their best, but they cannot influence their children. The children themselves are having a rough time.
It’s just the way the brain is wired.
Yes, these are the latest stats about autism. It’s more prevalent than we think it is. People with autism look like everyone else. But if you watch carefully, you will pick up some signs.
1. They speak differently
Some people with autism speak a lot, some don’t speak at all. They may speak in a monotone, with no inflection in their voice. Even the ones who speak have trouble sharing experiences. They tend to repeat the same things, whether people around are interested or not. They may seem rude because they don’t pick up social cues about interrupting others.
2. They behave differently
Just like the children in the scenarios above, you may see them having meltdowns, or flapping their hands. You may notice them rocking. They do not play appropriately with other children. They have difficulties taking turns.
Warning: Don’t get carried away just by what you see.
People with Autism understand everything. Not only that, but with their out-of-the-box, creative thinking, they can change this world.
“Let’s pretend you are like me. You can’t talk, but you have a well-functioning mind and can understand people. Imagine you answer everyone who says something to you, but only you can hear it. Others hear your voice saying things you don’t necessarily mean. They think that’s all you are capable of thinking. People see your repetitive flapping or tapping and they think it serves no purpose. They don’t understand that the minute you stop, the moment is flooded with lights that hum, loud sounds that echo, kids moving too fast for you to keep up with and people trying to engage with you. It is hard on me to put my stimming away, but I try.”
Philip communicates by typing. Read more about him here.
He has achieved what he has because he has the right support- from family, friends, teachers and well wishers.
A plant blossoms when it is tended to with love, my friend. Every person blossoms when they are loved and accepted for who they are.
You may not be directly connected to an individual or a child with autism, but you can support this incredible population.
Choose to be proactive and try the following:
1. Be kind to the parent and child.
Families affected by ASD go through a lot. Unless you walk in their shoes, you won’t know how difficult their life is.
Be kind – always.
2. Speak up for the child
If you see another person making derogatory remarks or teasing these vulnerable people, please ask them to stop. Refrain from joining them.
Family members are often stressed and worried. Besides, the child understands everything you say.
3. Give them space
If the child is having a meltdown, help if you can.
At SAI Connections, we’ve been blessed to have helpful, kind volunteers.
These people are not affected by autism directly, but they come in and spend time with the children each week.
Would you like to enhance the lives of these wonderful kids and adults, and learn from them in the process?
If yes, we can connect you with people in your city who could use your help. People who are silently praying for good samaritans like you. Get in touch with us.
When my son was diagnosed 25 years ago, they said that 1 in 10000 people has autism.
Today 1 in 68 has it. They’re now speaking up for themselves.
Listen to what Jason wants to share with us:
Amazing, isn’t he?
Did you know that Microsoft is hiring people with autism to their team? They believe that this fosters creativity and project innovation. In their words, ‘it does much to stretch an organization to embrace people who might think and behave differently from the typical employee.’
We, in India, need to give them a chance too. They will make this world a better place for all of us.