Before anything, I’d like to invite you all to join this flash blog, especially if you have firsthand experience with persons with autism. To join: Publish your post in the following title format: “ [Your Blog] celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013″, post it on every social networking site you have with hashtag #AutismPositivity2013 and share. Oh, and do submit here even if you don’t have a blog 🙂
Admittedly, I still find it hard to write about anything autism-related even after three months of not writing about it in thesis. So I’ll make this simple. I also can’t post any pictures because I didn’t really ask permission.
I’ve met quite a lot of persons with autism, and, to break the first stereotype, they’re not all the same! Quite the opposite, they possess a huge variety of skills, personalities, characters, and traits. Two common things though are, of course, the symptoms, and their self-advocacy.
It’s really inspiring, to see adolescents with autism fight for their rights. Hope. They have it, even if society around them does not. And they’re right. The autism spectrum disorders are disorders, not diseases. There’s nothing wrong with having it. Let me walk you through the persons with autism that I’ve met.
The first one that struck me is a teenage boy in one of the institutions I’ve visited. Let’s just call him Fred. Among other autism symptoms, Fred has a little speech impairment. But that doesn’t stop him from pursuing what he loves: music. He has a good ear for tunes. And what really amazed me was his guitar skills. He can play a whole lot better than your average neurotypical guitar player (me included). He can even play it on his back! Of course he has other talents, but wow, those guitar skills are really admirable!
Second is one of our thesis respondents. Let’s call him Jay. If you asked Jay to tell you about his autism, you better be prepared for a long speech about his life. It’s a pretty good story too. What I love most about Jay is his drive to let his story be known and accepted. He’s one of those self-advocates that can really make you want to join the cause. It’s inspiring to see such pride and dignity in an adolescent with autism.
Another respondent from our thesis is Nikki. She’s a diva. And I mean diva. She can belt out and sing the craziest tunes, and has amazing stage presence! Of course, being a diva, she also acts like one, which would have been annoying if she didn’t laugh afterwards and show you that she doesn’t really mean it. Raised without much proper intervention, she was put through some improvised “intervention” such as modeling for discipline. Goes to show that you don’t really need to “change” them. Truly, Nikki is an inspiring, sweet, light-hearted diva.
Mr. congeniality I call him, my friend’s brother. Though I wouldn’t be surprised why he’s like that, considering he has such cool and supportive parents. I’ve only met him twice, and only spent a few minutes with him, but that was enough to charm me. The fact that he can openly talk to strangers in a comfortable way shows that this friendly dude really is something! So, no, they aren’t really anti-social as the stereotypes say. Far from it.
Lastly, I know it’s bad to play favorites, but I can’t help it. I’ve been friends with this boy for two years now and I still get excited over the next opportunity to see him! Let’s call him Jude. My first encounter with Jude was a handshake and a formal introduction. Proof that persons with autism can follow some norms. Jude has many talents, more than I can describe here in this entry, but what’s special about him is the friendship that he offers. A sweet and charming boy, Jude always finds a way to melt my heart. Just last year, after not having seen him for a long time, I wondered if he still remembered even my face. Lo and behold, upon entering his school, he quickly stood up and greeted me by my first name. And in one of our organization’s events that I couldn’t attend, I was told that he even looked for me. Simply the way his face lights up each time we visit is heartwarming, and to be honest, the main reason why I decided to “specialize” in autism.
I can go on about these five people, or I can give even more, but I think this should suffice. After all, there’s no comparing first-hand experiences with persons with autism. It really is wonderful. To conclude, I’d like to tell each and every person with autism: there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Don’t let anyone bring you down, and most importantly, don’t bring yourself down because the people around you are fighting with you to show the world just how wonderful you are. You are different, not less. And with that difference, you can shine.