Autism Awareness month is winding down. There have been many excellent messages publicized in print and on TV to increase the awareness that these individuals (children and adults) need to be assisted to become the best they can. Some may always need more support, but a growing number have the potential of being independent, productive individuals if we understand what they need and provide it.
So what do they need? They need patience on our part. They process their world differently and it is often confusing and frustrating. If they have more time many can translate what they experience into what we are needing or expecting of them. Think of this like working with someone for whom English is a second language. It takes time to translate first literally and then contextually what has been presented to them.
Next, they need access to materials, technology, and teaching/training that will allow them to maneuver through day-to-day demands. This could be social, communicative, academic, or work-related. For individuals in the autism spectrum much of what we take for granted is something that they need to be taught, just like reading and writing for all children. After all reading and writing is not automatic, hardwired, or intuitive. We have to realize that other aspects of living and communicating may not be hardwired into individuals within the spectrum. It doesn’t mean that it can’t be expected or taught, but rather that we have to anticipate that whatever they are struggling with needs our talents to help them master it too.
We also have to spend time noticing and nurturing their interests and strengths. Where would we be without the creative geniuses of Einstein, Bill Gates and others who think differently from most of us? Different is not wrong, it is just different.
Take a moment to say thank you to a person (child or adult) within the spectrum for providing you with the opportunity to think outside the box. They have made you a better person because of this.
Would you like a copy of my free report on oppositional children? Click here.