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Today, April 2nd, is #AutismAwarenessDay. Here is something about being more inclusive to mull over, as told by a special educator for children with autism.
Imagine being told how to behave, what to do and what not to on a regular basis. Imagine having people get upset with you for stuff that doesn’t even enter your mind.
Imagine having fear running decisions that impact you: Will he/she be able to handle this? No! Let’s not take them out then. Let’s limit their world to four walls. Decisions made by others on your behalf, without trying, without working with you, without teaching you and you are 6 years old or 8 years old or 12. Or an adult who won’t be given opportunities sight unseen.
April 2nd is Autism Awareness Day. Like with everything else, we need to go beyond one day and some awareness.
Autism is a lifelong developmental condition in which kids and adults face challenges in communications and negotiating social relationships. It is a spectrum condition, meaning that we are on it too, at different levels, we supposedly ‘normal’ people.
The word to use instead of ‘normal’ is ‘neurotypical’ – normal is a math concept and changes according to the population you are looking at. In a group of kids on the autism spectrum, autism is normal.
Inclusion is something we are really fighting for on behalf of children on the autism spectrum. Despite brilliance and demonstrated ability, children with autism (and anything outside of a common definition of ‘normal’) continue to be asked to ONLY attend special schools. What’s worse is when several special schools also deny the child space in their environments.
Have a child with autism in your kid’s class? Please reach out. If you don’t know what to say or do, do ask the mom. Offer to include the child and see. Often, the tiny changes one might make will work for every child invited. Even if the parent doesn’t attend, the fact that their child has some place that wants them to belong will make their week.
I get to work with these souls who work much harder than anyone I know, to just be. If that’s not on for us, it is SO not on for anyone.
Parents of kids with autism are destined for nirvana after this life, in my opinion. Where someone is worrying about if their kids’ tiny nuance will happen, these warriors have worked with their expectations on the lines that the Gita recommends. Do your best, don’t expect, keep on trying.
Just being around these folks makes us better people. Inclusion for selfish reasons – it makes our kids smarter and more empathetic! If not for anything else, for the sake of our neurotypical kids, inclusion is required.
Please feel free to ask me anything about autism, any time, publicly or privately. I will do my best to help or bring in big guns who will.
Published first on the author’s Facebook page
Image source: shutterstock