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Sreethu Haridas

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Did people with Autism teach me something?

I have known hundreds of individuals on the spectrum over the duration of the last 10 years. I’ve learned about Autism from various books, research, direct observation and attending conferences. However, anything interesting and perceptive that I have learned about autism has come from an individual living with autism spectrum disorder. It was easier to learn more about ASD from books, research, conferences and speaking with family members, but what ultimately molded me to do the best is from the knowledge I gained from an individual living with an autism spectrum disorder.

Are people with Autism Fractured?

Individuals with autism have a nervous system that responds in unique ways to their surroundings, in other words, their neurology functions differently. They have specific sensory experiences, a different and unique variety of learning styles, and challenges in  self-regulation. Researchers and olden outdated therapists mindsets and goals was to repair autism .In reality there is nothing to be fixed or repaired. People with autism are unique and smart in there on way and see the world in a different point of view, which is interesting and special. Instead of fixing it we can help them to conquer this world by giving them the best tools to face their challenges and trying to see the world from their point of view.

What is theory of mind?

Theory of mind is ability to understands one’s own and others emotions and desires. We were convinced that the way a neurotypical individual thinks and interprets events, actions and thoughts was absolutely correct. Expressing affection is one area where this can be seen. Individuals with autism like to show their affection in their on unique way.

A society or a parent might think hugging and kissing is the only way to show affection, but ASD individuals may show affection by being in a parent’s vicinity or by playing with you. Why can’t parent’s or society see this as an expression of affection? Theory of mind goes both ways, and it is valid for all.

Are they Empathetic?

People with Autism have empathy. In fact many of individuals with autism I know are very empathetic. A lack of empathy comes from a lack of understanding. We all want to understand each other. As a therapist I experienced this incidence recently. A child with autism got fractured while playing on a swing but did not experience much pain from the injury. But I had previously suffered same thing and I was in a severe pain. It was important for each of us to understand that although we had broken arms in common, our experiences were different. This is where empathy is derived – from understanding another person ‘s experience. As it related to autism, it can be difficult for neurotypical individuals to understand the autistic experience and vice versa. I have learned that individuals with autism do have empathy. In fact, they often understand the experiences of others far better than a neurotypical individual understands the autistic experience.

Are they able to understand hidden meanings?

Understanding of a hidden meaning of a sentence is hard for children with autism. For example, the following is wording on an actual sign found in a bathroom: “Toilet out of order, please use floor below.” The sign really means to use the restroom located on the next floor or story down. But is that what the sign really says? Is it up to people with autism to understand hidden meanings, or is it up to those without autism to be more obvious?

Are they sacrificing their challenges to adjust in this neurotypical world?

We as a parent’s, therapist, and teachers constantly talk about the sacrifice that we make for people on the spectrum, and we are very proud of this fact. We make life easy for them by making daily schedule, food they like to eat, and giving them best communication tools. But did you ever realize that how much sacrifice does they make to accommodate themselves in this neurotypical world. From the time they get up in the morning till the time they go to bed they are adjusting many of their challenges to face this neurotypical world. Things they adjust are how we communicate to them either it is verbally or visually. Light and loudness around them in different situations and places, hidden meaning words used to explain things and numerous sudden changes in their schedule.

Individual with Autism accommodate into neurotypical world without much complaints if they know people around them are going to watch them and protect them. I greatly appreciate for the kindness they had shown to me.

Is there any limit for their potential?

Most of the people with autism have limitless capabilities and potentials. Many

inventions and successful innovations has developed because of the efforts of people who see the world differently and who inspire others to see the world from their point of view.

It is important for all of us as parents, therapist, and teachers provide our children with the support needed to reach their full potential. Individual with Autism can make this world a better place to live with their great accomplishments

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