I'm heading towards my 50th birthday and I am so excited to be here. I find myself catapulted into another world that demands a new paradigm. Families of children with autism are suffering as they feel a sense of isolation in a world that doesn't connect with their child. I'm increasingly confronted by parents; well intentioned parents with desperation in their eyes. They have brought into this world a child that is different to the expectation of what children are meant to be. They observe the magnificence, the uniqueness and even the gentility of their child, and so want everyone else to see what they see what they see....yet their child doesn't always conform to society; doesn't always perform for the crowds; doesn't fit in to what mainstream expects of them. It is incredibly frustrating and in some way soul destroying.
Yet, if we would - by we I mean all of us, would stop looking at these children through the eyes of what is meant to be normal and open up our scope of vision which in turn blurs the lines of normal; then we would 'see' all children and people for who they are meant to be. What if there is no "normal"? What if "normal" is simply conformity to the 'norms' of what society expects? Autism, and those who live with autism blur the lines of normal all the time; they challenge us to think ouside the box in order to be with them, teach them or nurture them; they extend us beyond ourselves in that we can never function within the so-called "normal" ever again!
I met a wonderful family the other evening. They have a wonderful boy who is 11. He is astute, tender, helpful, smart and he also has autism. He was somewhat suspicious of my presence - naturally, but when I opened up the IPad he slowly and surreptitiously slid next to me - collecting my scent (this boy recognises people by smell) and within a short space of time started working on the IPad quickly picking up on the requirements of the application. His Dad was nearly jumping out of his skin, "see, see", he said. "He picks up so quickly. He is smart". I responded...."you have a very bright boy" and I could see the relief in their faces. Someone could see what they could.
I received a beautiful note from another parent this week, as I am taking long service leave and I will be away for 5 weeks for second term. The note read "thank you for getting our son". It was all I needed to read. I will continue to say this until I no longer need to say it.....we do not need to eliminate autism, we need to get it, understand it, connect with it and then learn from it. When we do so, then we will have the same understanding parents have - that their kids are not wierd, or stupid, or 'not' normal. They just are who they are! Wonderful, unique human beings.
Finally from the mouth of one of my gorgeous students who spoke these words to me this week...."Karina, do you know you are the most perfect teacher for me.....perfect in every way! And if you were any different, like skinnier, then you would just not be you". WOW! This kid sees me....and in that one sentence helped me to to see myself. Thank you Aramis!