When you think of Autism what comes to mind? It could be a variety of things, someone you know, things you’ve been told about the disorder, the debate over vaccines being connected to the development of autism, characteristics associated with an autistic individual, or maybe you know nothing about it.
When I think of autism I think of my cousin. He is 13 years old now and has come such a far way over the years, his communication is unbelievable, although he will do everything to avoid having a conversation with me. I make a point to make him talk, to get him away from the video games or dvds and talk about real life, because I know he can and I love to hear what he has to say. I encourage him to read to anyone who is willing to listen, because he can, and you may spend more time telling him to slow down and read loudly but he can read and that is what counts. He has a smile that lights up a room and a joy within him that is hard to find in a boy his age. He is truly a bright spot in my life that I am so thankful for.
What I don’t understand about the world is their inability to understand the ways Autism Spectrum Disorder affects individuals. Why is it so hard for you to understand that it takes a person with autism a longer time to learn or they need to be taught in a unique way so that they do learn? Autism may affect the way people live their life but they are still people, they still have feelings and want to feel included.
The next time you meet someone with autism that is high functioning and capable of having a conversation, talk with them, encourage them and most importantly ask them what they want the world to know about the way autism affects their life. I guarantee it will be a response similar to that of my sweet cousin.
A conversation my aunt had with my cousin:
I asked him what he would say about learning things, how his brain works. His reply, “Sometimes it takes me longer to learn things, my brain works differently than yours.”