Everyday I work with these wonderful children, I learn more and more about what autism is.....and also about what autism is not. These kids are funny, brilliant, deep thinking, analytical, acutely aware of their surroundings and precise. They can be harsh and blunt, but in the next second be thoughtful and dear. One of my young boys asked me bluntly "why I was fat? and how did you get to be fat?" I actually took these questions as a compliment as I felt his asking how to "get to be fat" was in some way his desire to be like me....I laughed and joked and said "you have to eat a lot of chocolate". Then another of my children, a gorgeous young man, said "Do you know John (not real name), that in some cultures, being fat is considered beautiful?" God love this child.
These kids are unique...they are individual and I think in this era this is a precious lesson presented to us all. The world is full of "what it is to be fashionable"; "what it is to be beautiful"; "what it is to be recognised" and we are fast becoming unrecognisable as people. People are using surgery to resculpture their bodies and their face; they use fake tan, or tanning beds to constantly look like they've just come back from a summer holiday; they put botox and other intrusive chemicals in and on their body to look like what is thought to be acceptable to society. Yet our wonderful people who have autism, say "f&^% you" to all that (excuse my language here). They say accept me for who I am and what I am, or don't at all. They say, this is me, this is what I do and love me anyway. They say, I challenge and defy you to be unique, individual and different. When we get that as a quintessential truth, then we begin to realise that "autism" really isn't that different afterall; it really isn't that odd; and certainly isn't that objectionable a way to be....the only object is our own in not understanding it. When we understand, we realise that autism is, as autism does....and by looking into the eyes of the children, we find a part of ourselves that cries to be heard and accepted. Children and people with autism are not cold...quite the opposite, they are warm and loving; but they reserve their love and warmth for those who truly appreciate them. Pray you are one of those people, for when a child with autism looks you in the eyes and says "I love you" and you know they truly mean it....there is no greater satisfication in life.
So, what I am trying to say is, that it is the quest of humanity to understand, accept and embrace all difference and I believe we need to accept these values even more so than ever before. I'm so blessed to be where I am right now....I am blessed to have had the opportunity to study autism as an issue and my quest is to continue to bring awareness to all concerned. Most importantly we need to send some energy to the famiies who deal with this issue every day....they need our help. Not for us to say "there there...you poor things"...but to say, "help me to understand and how can we assist?" The last thing parents need is pity.....but from the many I've spoken to, they just want you to understand and get it. When you do, trust me you will find out more about yourself than you ever expected.