In observance of Autism Awareness (or as I like to call it, Autism Awareness in Action) Month, my husband has been sharing “What Autism Has Taught Me” posts on his Facebook page each night. I’ve enjoyed following along. Reading peoples’ comments reminds me that there is still a big need for awareness. Hopefully, that awareness leads to action.
To view previous posts:
In recognition of autism awareness month, I thought I’d share 30 things throughout the month that autism has taught me. So here we go:
What autism has taught me – Day 22:
The name of Jesus will STILL be praised.
“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8
1. I am first and foremost a child. I have autism. I am not primarily “autistic”. My autism is only one aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person. Are you a person with thoughts, feelings, and many talents, or are you individualize by one trait?
2. My sensory perceptions are disordered. This means that the ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of every day that you may not event notice can be downright painful fro me. The very environment in which I have to live often seems hostile. I may appear withdrawn or belligerent to you but I am really just trying to defend myself.
3. Please remember to distinguish between won’t (I choose not to) and can’t (I am not able to). It isn’t that I don’t listen to instructions. It’s that I can’t understand you. When you call me from across the room, this is what I hear: “*$<%$@&, Billy. @#%^*&$$.” Instead, approach me and speak directly to me in plain words: “Please put your book in your desk, Billy. It’s time to go to lunch.” This tells me what you want me to do and what is going to happen next. Now it is much easier for me to comply.
4. I am a concrete thinker. This means I interpret language very literally. It’s very confusing to me when you say, “Hold your horses, cowboy!” when what you really means is, “Please stop running.” Don’t tell me something is a “piece of cake” when there is no dessert in sight and what you really mean is “This will be easy for you to do.”…Idioms, puns, nuances, double intenders, inference, metaphors, allusions and sarcasm are usually lost on me.
5. Please be patient with my limited vocabulary. It’s hard for me to tell you what I need when I don’t know the words to describe my feelings. I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened or confused but right now those words are beyond my ability to express. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation or other signs that something is wrong.
6. Because language is so difficult for me I am very visually oriented. Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me. And please be prepared to show me many times. Lots of consistent repetition helps me learn.
7. Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do. Like any other human, I can’t learn in an environment where I’m constantly made to feel that I’m not good enough and that I need “fixing.” Trying anything new when I am almost sure to be met with criticism, however “constructive,” becomes something to be avoided. Look for my strengths and you will find them. There is more than one right way to do most things.
8. Help me with social interactions. It may look like I don’t want to play with other kids on the playground, but sometimes it’s just that I simply do not know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation…I do best in structured play activities that have a clear beginning and end. I don’t know how to read facial expressions, body language or the emotions of others, so I appreciate ongoing coaching in proper social responses.
9. Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns. Meltdowns, blow-ups, tantrums or whatever you want to call them are even more horrid for me than they are for you. They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload. If you can figure out why my meltdowns occur, they can be prevented…Try to remember that all behavior is a form of communication. It tells you, when my words cannot, how I perceive something that is happening in my environment.
10. If you are a family member, please love me unconditionally. Banish thoughts like, “If he would just – ,” and “Why can’t she -.” You did not fulfill every last expectation your parents had for you and you wouldn’t like being constantly reminded of it. I did not choose to have autism. But remember that it is happening to me, not you. (So grateful our family loves Camden unconditionally).
*I found out that another niece of mine has a son, who was diagnosed with autism. It seems to be more prevalent than I thought. Thanks Brian and Candice for yall’ s reports of this lest I may not been aware of some of these things about it. Surely, your work is not in vain.
1. Read Brian’s daily posts in private because you will most likely cry.
2. Appreciate the individuality of each child. They are all so unique, so special and have such great gifts. No cookie cutters, but appreciate their special gifts.
3. No matter how ‘stressful’ it might be as to parent your individual child, the only way to keep moving forward is to be thankful that parenting is a gift from God and don’t take it for granted.
4. Appreciate ALL the people in your life that help in your parenting journey. Whether your child has special needs or is just a really fiery red head that loves to test you on a daily basis, you can always lean on and learn from other people.
5. Brian and Candace are truly inspiration people (although I already thought that about them both even before they got married and became parents :))).
Thank you Brian for your posts this month!! I have read them all and if I ever missed a day, I made sure to go back and read it. You are fantastic people and I love you both!!