I follow several blogs and Facebook pages that have ‘autism’ as their central theme, most of which are written and/or managed by people who have a diagnosis themselves.
One of these, which I’ve only recently discovered, is Autistic Not Weird — a webpage/Facebook community run by Chris Bonnello, a primary school teacher with Asperger’s who has turned professional Autism speaker.
A recent post by Chris said this:
We spend so much time and effort talking negatively about autistic people — discussing only their difficulties and calling it ‘autism awareness’.
What if we took some of that energy and made people aware of HOW AWESOME autistic people are too?
— Chris Bonnello
I believe he makes an excellent point. Looking back at many of my posts, I don’t think I’ve talked negatively on the whole but most of them are ‘this is the experience that happened to us and this is what we did about it’ or ‘look how much he’s improved’ or ‘if I’d known then what I know now’.
There are times, few and far between thankfully, I find myself thinking ‘why us?’, ‘why him?’ or ‘it’s not fair’.
Every parent of a child with special needs thinks this at some point (and if they tell you they don’t, they’re covering up). The thing is — it’s okay to feel this way as long as it doesn’t overwhelm you and become the norm.
For those times when I do feel like that, Chris got me thinking it would be nice to have a little list of all the things that are wonderful in our Asperger’s World.
Raising our child with Asperger’s Syndrome means:
♥ we are allowed into a world where we can see things from a perspective we would never have considered otherwise
♥ we get to slow down, seek out the really valuable and fun activities, rather than trying to fit in every experience, everywhere and with everyone
♥ we appreciate more — the little successes and small joys are so much more worthwhile
♥ we have developed an insight into people — family members, friends and the community as a whole — often seeing people for who they are, not who they claim to be
♥ we have an amazing opportunity to learn from a young mind who can express himself beautifully and with honesty
♥ we have developed empathy and can use it to help others
♥ we get to live with a unique individual who is sensitive, serious, has the quickest mind and wit — and is as funny as can be, making us laugh every day!
Next time someone ‘sympathises’ and tells me how hard things must be — I think I might need to set them straight.
Yes, things are tough sometimes. The learning curve is momentous. There are slumps. But the highs and the benefits and the joys outweigh these negatives — if only we know how to access them.
Living outside the box is a lot more fulfilling than living inside it with everyone else!
Thank you, Chris, for opening our eyes.