KINDNESS KORNER #8: KINDNESS IS … SEEING THE ‘GIFTS’ OF AUTISM.
“As a parent or caregiver of a child on the autism spectrum, you have probably heard countless messages about the perceived deficits of having autism. There has been much scientific research proving the brain of people on the spectrum is different from the brain of a neurotypical person. However, researchers are now starting to see these differences, not as defects, but rather as ‘evidence simply of their alternative, yet sometimes successful, brain organization,’ (Dr. Laurent Mottron, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal). While the neurodiversity of autism was formerly considered a problem or abnormal, scientists have come to understand that it can have many benefits.
“The benefits of the neurodiversity of autism include:
• Absorbing information and acute focus on their interests
• Being innovative, out-of-the-box thinking
• Having a passion for fairness
• Adding purposeful value to the smallest details
• Having a highly developed imagination
• Often having exceptional memories, and are less likely to misremember something
• Often outperform others in auditory and visual tasks, and also do up to 40% better on non-verbal tests of intelligence
“Here, at the Autism Treatment Center of America, we have a core perspective that autism has many gifts for us if we choose to see it that way. We do not minimalize the challenges that autism brings. However, choosing to see your child on the autism spectrum as a ‘gift’ in your life has many benefits for you and your child:
• A doorway into a deeper understanding of our children’s seemingly unusual behaviors
• It opens our hearts and minds to their differences
• We are shown the world from their unique perspective
• An invitation to expand our sense of humor
• The ability to deepen our ability to unconditionally love
• It allows gratitude and appreciation for our autistic child to flourish
“Just as we can decide to see a gift in anything we experience, especially if it is challenging (such as an illness, relationship break-up, loss of a job), choosing to see your child on the spectrum as a gift can reward you with many riches.
“Seeing your child on the autism spectrum as a gift is an act of kindness to yourself and your child that can be life-changing for both of you … and, our society.
“As Dr. Laurent Mottron said, ‘By emphasizing the strengths of people with autism, deciphering how people with autism learn and avoiding language that frames autism as a defect, researchers can shape the discussion of autism in society.’
“Have a kind-filled day seeing your child on the autism spectrum as a gift!”
Suzanne Pruss, Son-Rise Program Teacher