Taking the “Dis” Out Of Disability: Understanding Autism’s Power

autism-rubik-cubeIf you have a child with autism, you may be concerned about what his or her life will look like in the future. Will she be able to hold a job? Maintain a relationship? Be a functioning member of society?

The good news is that Autism Awareness is higher than ever before thanks to organizations like The Autism Society, who plan events, pool resources, and help get families involved in treatment. But still, as any parent knows, it can be nerve-wracking to try and imagine your child as an adult, and the anxiety only increases when your little-one has any kind of disability.

The first step to ensuring your child’s future success, according to autistic filmmaker and author, Carly Jones, is to accept that she does, in fact, have a disability. While it can be hard to stomach that term, Jones notes that the problem is not inherent in the word itself, but the associations that we have with it. If we view a disability as a “problem,” or something that makes a person, “inferior,” then it certainly is not a useful moniker. But, if we see it as an indication that the person in question experiences the world differently, then it can be helpful.

And people with autism, do see the world differently. Plenty of research has been done to support this claim. But that doesn’t mean that there is no value in how they perceive the people and places around them.

Quite the contrary. In this world where too many people strive to be the same, it is often the outliers who are most needed to balance our society. Because it is these people who remind us that each person is unique, and that we all have our own gifts to give.

Interestingly, the special nature of individuals with autism isn’t limited to how they see their surroundings. Their brains are extraordinary, as well. Scientists at Columbia University in New York City, found that people with autism have more synaptic connections in their brains than people without the disease. While more research is needed to determine exactly what this means for treatment, we find this information to be in line with our earlier declaration; that different doesn’t mean less. In this case, it actually means more!

Recognizing the physical and neurochemical differences in children with autism is helpful, because we know that these kids are not experiencing difficulties for lack of trying. Instead, there are real structural, behavioral, and psychological differences that they contend with on a daily basis.

Still, there is no reason that children with autism cannot grow up to be well-rounded, full-functioning adults. With the proper care and treatment, these amazing individuals can learn the necessary tools to work with their unique perspectives. In fact, some amazing works of art have come about in this way.

Helping children to understand their own ways of being is part of what we do. If you, or someone you know, has a child whom you suspect may have autistic tendencies, contact us. We are here to help.