If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.
In case you didn’t know, April 2nd is World Autism Awareness day, and April is Autism Awareness month. Landmarks across the globe will be lighting it up blue today. From Niagra Falls to Sagrada Familia to the Great Pyramid in Egypt, blue is in! Even the sanitation department in NYC is in on the action; their trucks will be promoting awareness all month long.
Think about a time in your life when you felt like you didn’t fit in. Don’t lie to yourself. Dig deep and think about the darkest moment – the one where everybody laughed at you, nobody understood you, and it felt a whole lot like you were alone. Think about a time when you looked somebody up and down, thought they were different, and either looked the other way or whispered to a friend. Recognize that society isn’t kind to people who don’t fit the mold of what we think is right.
People on the Autism spectrum process things differently. At the level of perception and interpretation, they are in fact different. They are different but they are not less. We try to force these children to fit the model of what we think children should be like, but that simply isn’t who they are. Just imagine what could happen if instead of trying to force these children to change we got down on one knee and listened. Image what we could learn from their view of the world.
We encourage children to use their imagination. We want innovation. As Temple Grandin said, “Who do you think made the first stone spears? The Asperger guy. If you were to get rid of all the autism genetics, there would be no more Silicon Valley.” Thinking in a new way can open doors to new technology, new ways of thinking. If we don’t listen to these kids, they never have a voice, and without a voice, how can they be expected to reach their full potential?
Throughout April, I encourage each and every one of you to ask questions and really learn about a disorder that’s running rampant. If we can educate others about Autism, they can develop a compassion for individuals on the spectrum. Through understanding as much as we can about this disorder, we can provide the best treatment, and with a little bit of help, these individuals are capable of accomplishing great things. It all starts with one person having the patience to teach them about social skills, to believe in them, and to love them.
Autistic individuals aren’t “normal” according to society, but I don’t think it’s up to us to decide what is. In God’s eyes, we are all worthy of unconditional love. Who really wants to fit into conventional society anyways? If you always do exactly what is expected, your life has to be pretty boring. I challenge you to be yourself, to accept others for who they are, and to love instead of judge. It’s really not that hard to hear autism if you just shut up and listen. You probably have more in common than you think. We’ve all felt different, like we didn’t belong. Don’t be the cause of that feeling for someone else. #LIUB