How Changing Your Mindset About Autism Will Impact Your Life Favorably
I came across this beautiful post, recently.
A thousand souls – a poem about autism by Kathy Carter of spectra.blog
In a lifetime we’re privileged to meet eighty thousand souls.
Around a thousand have autism; still with dreams and goals.
On the autistic spectrum, processing is a chore.
Not necessarily ‘impaired’; nor diseased to their core.
Educators, practitioners, families and friends
Lacking understanding, yet on them the autist depends.
How many of this thousand that we’ll meet, have diagnosis?
Many are still unaware; yet we share symbiosis.
Without autism, computers, smart phones, tech are less enduring;
Pioneers forging ‘aspie’ paths: Tesler, Gates and Turing.
So, what’s the difference in these souls, the thousand that we’ll meet?
Maybe sensory challenges, to light and sound and heat.
A difficulty blending in; socialisation quirks.
Different communication styles; a trait that sometimes irks.
But at their core, a simple truth – differences in processing.
A brain speed sometimes fast or slow – constantly assessing.
These souls, often creative: scientists, artists, writers.
Musicians, sculptors, poets, whose creations still delight us.
Many leading figures; Michelangelo, Warhol, Mozart
Are thought to have been autistic – perhaps it drove their art.
Yet those with autism don’t want reverence; handling with kid glove.
Just inclusion, acceptance, and a healthy dose of love.
Much less ignorance: ‘Well. We’re all autistic aren’t we?’
No. And while we’re at it, that young autist isn’t naughty.
Another irk. ‘You must be high functioning’, peers say.
It’s called ‘autistic masking’, to get one through the day.
So, these one thousand souls, that we’ll meet throughout our life.
They’re our bosses, neighbours, workmates; a husband and a wife.
The literal thinkers, loyal peers, problem solvers great.
The listeners, grounded cynics, the friends we truly rate.
Their daily struggles are unseen. Until the curtains close.
Their difference in processing results in crashing lows.
So education, acceptance and awareness are our goals
To understand autism, and embrace these thousand souls.
I was awestruck by this poem.
What if we could flip the way we think about autism?
On one hand- we get bogged down with the ‘disability’ angle and the focus on what a child cannot do.
We look at how different the child is from the norm.
I’m not underplaying your difficulties because I know they’re real.
But by changing your narrative about autism, new vistas will open up and your load will get lighter.
It’s time to look at the strengths and gifts of autistic individuals.
The challenge is the shift is mindset.
From ‘My child doesn’t know’ to ‘My child definitely knows, but he learns a different way.’
This is the shift in mindset that is required.
The benefit of this shift will be manifold.
1. True respect for your child. You will speak carefully and respectfully to your child.
And to others about him, in front of him.
2. You will gain a deep understanding about what your child goes through.
3. You will set limits effectively, because you will understand why she does what she does.
4. You will be a better advocate for your child.
5. A harmonious relationship between you both will ensue.
6. When you change, your environment will change. When you change the way you look at your child, your family and friends will also look at your child differently.
I look forward to the day when we all feel privileged to meet autistic individuals.
How do you feel about your autistic child?
Here’s your challenge.
Spend 10 minutes with your child mindfully today.
Look deep in his/her eyes. Acknowledge them for who they are. Commend them for all the difficulties they put up with due to a differently wired brain. Above all, talk to them as if they understand.
Because they do.
After you’re done with this exercise, share your thoughts in the comments section.
Kamini Lakhani is the founder and director of SAI Connections. She has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 20 years and is the authorized director of Professional Training for RDI in India and the Middle East. She is also the mother of a young adult with autism.