Autism Parenting Magazine Issue 74 (Member's Dashboard) - Page 12

PERSONAL NARRATIVE A huge difficulty arises in these conversations due to the drastic variances in levels of functioning on the spectrum. But what if the solution is simple? What if we’re trying too hard to know everything with certainty? individual is finally having a voice in conversations that are hugely significant to them. It’s incredible. I’m in the camp of exhausted parents who also have a right to a voice here. Since it’s the most important job any of us will ever have, we’re passionate and should be. A huge difficulty arises in these conversations due to the drastic variances in levels of functioning on the spectrum. But what if the solution is simple? What if we’re trying too hard to know everything with cer- tainty? It seems reasonable to think every situation is unique and deserves to be evaluated on an individu- al, moment-to-moment basis. Willing and able people with autism can, and should, champion their causes. If they do, it’s extremely im- portant that the “neurotypical” world hears them. Their perspectives could be a huge part of what enables fur- ther understanding. Imagine having something that’s central to your way of existing, something you identify with and take pride in. Wouldn’t it be annoying for peo- ple that lack your intimate familiarity to treat it as an issue, something to actively work on improving? There’s something to be said for unique thinking. Without attempting the impossible task of retroac- tively diagnosing historical figures, it’s hard to ignore that many great innovators have shared some of the traits we’ve come to identify with autism. Pretty re- liably, the people who drive our society forward are people who think differently, even with the severely limiting lack of social acceptance these individuals often experience. I must acknowledge here that this isn’t an all-encompassing statement on the genius of people with autism. I, too, roll my eyes at the Rain Man stereotypes. It’s only a reminder of the simple notion that being different, even to a significant de- gree, can be good. 12 | Autism Parenting Magazine | Issue 74 The next natural question, then, is why is it usually our goal for ourselves and our children, consciously or not, to do everything we can to integrate into so- ciety to the point of making ourselves invisible? Au- tistic or not, we need to work on this one. Some the- ories suggest that primitive survival strategies from thousands of years ago are still at play. In an ancient setting, where individual survival meant achieving complete acceptance in a tribe, maybe this instinct would be useful. But our world just isn’t that way anymore, and unfortunately, we’re left with unneces- sary barriers preventing most meaningfully different things from flourishing. In this context, it’s not farfetched to think of autism as a beautiful genetic difference that we haven’t yet figured out how to accommodate in our world. So embracing diversity should be like, duh, no brainer. But there’s a scenario when someone, fighting this righteous cause, can take it too far. We have this one reality within which to function. When our reality, as a result of neurological differences, becomes an in- tense daily struggle to accomplish things that most are fortunate enough to achieve without effort, it’s hard to wear the rose-colored glasses. Some argue that implementing therapy programs for people with autism is wrong