Autism Awareness: Personal Reflections
I have been fortunate to have worked with individuals that are impacted by Autism and their families for 20 years. As I sat down to write this blog, I immediately began thinking about the many families that I have had the pleasure to know and how I have been changed by them. I am a different therapist, person, mom, wife and friend due to Autism.
I decided that I wanted to write about how I am thankful for all the world of Autism has given me. First, I am thankful for being given the opportunity to see that many of us learn differently. I have met kids that have learned to read through Disney movies, Valentine cards and of course the Star Wars intro. I am convinced that some of these kids use parts of their brain that some of us will never access.
I am thankful for the countless kids that despite some of their social difficulties, they somehow can miraculously light up any room in a way that everyone wants to be around them. I am in awe of their ability to do this.
I am thankful for the honesty that Autism can bring. I remember a story about a boy that was working on understanding the difference between compliments and insults. He often made statements that were insulting to others, but being an analytical thinker, he felt the statements to be true. We decided to define each of them and then practice giving each other compliments and insults. This may have been a novice therapist mistake. As we started, we discovered that he was quite skilled at the insults. Then when it was time for the compliments he stated, “You know you really would look better with earrings!”
I am thankful for the determination that many parents have taught me as they fight to find the best plan for their kids. I have sat in meetings where parents and their teams have come together in a really special way to best meet the needs of their child.
Finally, I am truly thankful to be able to know each of my families impacted by Autism. I have watched parents come to us in tears, tired and weary from the journey that Autism can bring. Each of these families have taught me about grace, peace, faith and strength. They may not know it, but I am inspired by them. The world can learn a lot from these amazing kids and families.