When I started the journey with my daughter who was diagnosed at age 4, I saw autism as an unknown enemy who had taken my daughter’s ability to evolve in a “normal” way.
Now, many years later as a parent as well as having been able to teach and work with people diagnosed with Autism, my views have greatly changed. My experience has given me a new perspective of autism. Instead of feeling like there is much that they need to learn and change to live in our world, I now feel that there is a lot that we can learn from them. Here are some of the key lessons that I’ve learned in general about people with autism:
1. They have a great ability to Connect.
I sometimes find myself just observing our daughter, who is now 19 and some of the young people that work at Artistas Café and find that when they are connected to who they are, they radiating joy and love.I think that comes with the ability to be fully present with what they are doing.Normally, we see this in all children, but lose some of this unbridled joy as we become adults.One of the big reasons they disconnect from their inner joy is because of our (parents and society’s) desire for them to be something other than they are.
2. They are present and living in the now.
As a society, we sometimes live life unconsciously. We are thinking about something in the past, or worried about something in the future, and that keeps us from being fully present in the now. People with autism as a general rule are very present and focused on what they are doing (sometimes to the point of blocking out things around them). Although being aware of their surroundings is a skill that can be learned by them, they can teach us about the importance of being present.
3. They are only interested in doing work that aligns with what they love.
Many of us who grew up as Baby Boomers have the mindset of working to support our families, sometimes bypassing work that aligns with our passion or God-given skills and talents. People with Autism oftentimes refuse to do something that they don’t care about and that can cause some frustration for those of us with the mindset of “we do what we have to do” even though we are miserable in our jobs. People with autism will not settle and thrive when they are aligned with work that matches their passion and abilities.
4. They are Authentic and say what they are thinking
After my experience in Corporate America, I came to realize that oftentimes, we don’t deal with people honestly or authentically for a variety of reasons that include, we don’t like conflict, we think people should know what we think, we think it will hurt people’s feelings, or it will be a poor reflection on us.After starting our program, I found it so refreshing that if I asked for our team member’s opinion, they would give me an honest and straightforward answer, even if considered un-favorable.This has created on environment of trust where people feel free to express what they are feeling and empowered to make suggestions or improvements to our operations.In terms of social skills, this is something they can learn over time without losing their authenticity.
5. They are intuitive
I believe that intuition oftentimes comes with the ability to connect to who we really are. At that place, we all can connect to wisdom, knowledge and ideas that we aren’t in the vicinity of when we are disconnected from our Source. Because people with autism have the ability to connect to their spiritual being (see #1), they have a heightened sense of intuition and creativity. This can serve them and our world in a multitude of ways.
My vision in working in the field of autism is not to change those with autism to fit into the neuro-typical world, but to integrate both worlds in a way that will elevate our planet to a more loving, joyous and compassionate place to live!