I live with autism.
Not in myself, but through my son, who was given the diagnosis of PDD-NOS a few years back. His autism is considered ‘high-functioning,’ which poses all sorts of challenges.
You’d think it’d be ‘better’ than being ‘severely’ autistic, but the problem is with high-functioning, his autism is invisible. When the stims and other autistic tendencies arise from an otherwise ‘normal’ kid, eyebrows are raised and sometimes we get scowled at in the I-could-raise-your-kid-better sort of way.
Whatever. You people have no idea.
The other end of the spectrum (the ‘severe’ end) also has its challenges, there’s no doubt of that. My nephew was recently diagnosed as severely autistic, and I’m still looking for resources and blogs to offer my brother and sister-in-law to help them see the world as their son does.
Because I know that how my son sees the world and how my nephew sees the world probably aren’t the same, but to read the reflections of those on the spectrum can illuminate what it might be like. And there are some common threads.
Nevertheless, autism isn’t all a downer. Not even remotely. Too many people think it’s a bit of a death sentence. A cage. A path from which there is no return, only madness, for the diagnosed and their loved ones alike.
Autism comes with gifts too.
For example, the gift of illustrating how ridiculous some of the things we say really are. Most autistics do rather poorly with sarcasm. They take what they’re told very literally.
Like the day my husband gave me some bad news while we were in the car.
“Oh, that’s wonderful,” I exclaimed.
“NO!” cried the boy in the back seat. “That’s terrible, Mommy. Why would you say it’s wonderful?”
Or the interaction between the husband and the boy this morning upon dropping the boy off for school
The Dad: “Kick butt today!”
The boy: “That’s not good, Dad. Do you mean bad guys?”
“There are no bad guys. All nations are our friends. I love all nations.”
In this way, our son has given us the gift of laughter.
He’s also given us the gift of beauty.
Through his eyes (and camera lens) we have seen what the world looks like to him, and it’s amazing. (Yes, I brag on his photography all the time, but check it out here, here, and here.)
I imagine that my nephew has given his parents a great many gifts already, too.
This Thursday, from 7-9pm EST, Shaun of the Stim celebrates the Gifts of Autism on Twitter. Hang out. Follow the #autgifts hashtag. Contribute.
Learn about all the wondrous gifts that come with autism.