Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Bright Side Of Autism

Welcome to The Cherry On Top.

We're putting Autism back into the picture.  Our last entry on Autism was shared, liked and we received a lot of comments on our other social networks.  We love to see participation, compassion and so many folks looking for support, advice and or help, just like us.

There is an overwhelming amount of information out there and after years of our own, personal research and professional help, it's not all very helpful.  When we find something really good, we'll share it here with you.

The Atlantic posted, "Autistic Brains Have Distinct Advantages".  It's a really good look at different ways to view Autism. Many of us parents and teachers of Autistic children, feel that there is something special about our kids.  Not just in a loving parent way, but also objectively.  

We want you to look at your children with fresh eyes.  Look for the wonderful or even extraordinary things they are doing and start thinking of ways to utilise those talents.  It might take a while and it may not be obvious, but never stop looking.

Liam was so unique the moment he left the womb.  They put him on my chest and he raised himself up to look me in the face. I was worried that I didn't hear crying.  It was amazing.  He never slept as a baby and still needs very little sleep.  He rarely goes to the toilet and he needs the minimal amount of food.  In the beginning we found this alarming, but after several years we began to think how this could be advantageous rather than thinking of it as something bad.

Liam was able to do complex puzzles quickly before he could even stand on his own.

As the article states, "low functioning" autistic people can also be smarter in certain ways than neurotypical people.  We definitely see that in our youngest son, JJ.  He's low functioning and needs help with just about everything, even at the age of 8.

However, before he started showing signs of Autism, he was doing very extraordinary things.  I've always played classical music for the boys.  Especially, when they were still in the womb and to this day, JJ has an absolutely amazing and unexplainable relation with music.  He seems to be able to pick up on the pattern of music before the song or piece is even complete and half way through the song, he can finish it without ever having heard the song before.

JJ wasn't verbal until around 5 and he still has serious problems with communication, but he was humming Mozart at one year old.  Today, he sings some songs that he hears in the car and his timing is just perfect.  I was listening to a funky, downtown kind of song with an over use of the "F" word, which he seemed to really like.  Hehehe...

Also mentioned in The Atlantic is how some unique skills from autistic people can be overlooked or deemed not useful.  We couldn't agree more with this and we feel that even many professionals are not grasping these gifts and directing it into something useful.  That's what we really want and need to change.

JJ is obsessed with Minecraft.  He turned a Jenga game into noticeable Minecraft figures.

Are your autistic friends or family good with math and puzzles?  Many autistic folks are great with finding patterns or making awesome connections that  takes me ages to even figure out how they got there.  Sometimes I cannot make the connections that they get, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  We all know about the falling tree in the woods.  We certainly need to change the way we think and then we will better our understanding of our children, family and friends with autism.

The Atlantic says that researchers are finding more evidence of profoundly disabled autistics that have incredible abilities that could be put to use if we could just get the right piece in the puzzle.  Just like The Atlantic mentions, autistic people being able to remember that January 13th was on a Tuesday, JJ can do that, too.  He also knows the birthday of everyone in his school and that's well over 100.

Yet what is his school or we for that matter, doing about it?  What are all of these professional therapists doing to encourage, motivate or even improve these kinds of abilities?  Let's find uses for amazing abilities and let's also show others that this might just be another step in human evolution.  Perhaps finding a cure isn't all we need to focus on.  How about we focus on the utilisation of these unfathomable talents and give these people meaning, purpose and acceptance through continuous support and education so that most people on the spectrum can become an integral part of our communities.

We seem very focused on erasing the differences between autistics and non autistics rather than harnessing the differences and working with the strengths.  Let's face it.  The social inability, if you will, to keep people feeling comfortable is a huge hang up of autism, but if we think more critically, is correcting this more important than improvement of their talents?  After all, how many people do you know that ask if you're ok even though they really don't care?  Aren't many comments your autistic friends and family make, things you're thinking anyway?  I don't know about you, but I like getting right to the chase.  I like it real and in my face rather than lied to and hidden behind a fake smile.  I find it refreshing, often hilarious and shake my head at the realisation that many people just don't like different.

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