Okay, so my Christmas holiday may have lasted a little longer than most… I’ve missed you all, and it’s good to be back. I hope you’ve had a wonderful time (even if it is hard to remember back that far by this point), and enjoyed your holidays.
Just before New Year’s, I heard something in the car that made me stop and think. I know, a thought-provoking comment sandwiched in between Christmas songs. Absolutely amazing.
The ad (I won’t say what for, as it doesn’t matter) challenged people not to make New Year’s resolutions about changing the things we do – like exercise or eating – but to change the way we think.
I like that.
Too often, I see families with autistic children – or nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, siblings, whatever – who want to fundamentally change them. To “fix” them, so that they retain just the bits and pieces of personality or habits that are socially acceptable.
Autism – and therefore Asperger’s Syndrome – doesn’t work like that.
If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that Asperger’s Syndrome grants some wonderful gifts to people. And I would never choose to take that away from anyone. No, not in exchange for an easier social life or for improved balance or just plain convenience or any of those things.
Our thinking needs to change. Our loved ones are who they are. The good parts, the not-so-great parts, the lovable bits, the tears and the laughter; all these things make up a person as a whole. We don’t get to label parts of it as unacceptable, or blame only a fraction of a human being on a syndrome or disorder.
I’d like to see people change the way they think about autism. To help their children, siblings, cousins, or any family member learn how to improve in the areas they can improve. To accept that they are different, and not to try to “fix” or “cure” them, but to help them (whether through occupational therapy, behavior analysis, social skills classes, increased parental involvement, or just plain support and encouragement) grow and learn in those areas that scream for assistance.
After all, aren’t all of us constantly in need of improvement?
Don’t all of us have “needs improvement” stamped on certain parts of our personality? I certainly do (ask anyone). It’s just that with Asperger’s Syndrome these areas are a little more defined than they are with the rest of us.
So I challenge you – and myself – to change the way we think. To hold back from judgment – especially when we really want to jump to conclusions – about people. To accept people they way they are, and not to break them up into little parts that we think we can dispose of without affecting the whole.
Good luck. And (a much belated) happy New Year!