The rise in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD’s) brings with it many new theories on what causes them as well as promises of cures. While many can get caught up in a web of how to deal their child’s diagnosis, some may find that while ASD brings many challenges it also comes with a large degree of joy. Children on the spectrum are all unique and if you have met one child with autism, you have met one child with autism. While many share certain characteristics, every child is still unique. The stigma of the diagnosis is very often the only devastating part. Many families find that while having a child or children on the autism spectrum is a different experience the most painful experience by far is how others react and treat them. Those living with and caring for children with autism often are experiencing a joy that most others do not have the opportunity to experience.
Children on the Autism Spectrum view the world in a different way. To them, joy, is what is most important. While their parents may feel the pain of others reactions to them they often remain unaware of people’s prejudices simply because it would never occur to them to be prejudice. They often, contrary to the stigma, enjoy connectedness and affection which goes beyond the typical experience. Many are able to find alternative ways to communicate (often because verbal speech may be limited). This means that while you may not always notice, they are learning to connect with you in ways that would never occur to most. They can interpret your emotions and find amazingly loving ways to communicate.. including telepathy, touch, and speaking with the eyes. While eye contact may seem limited in many autistic individuals, when they do look at you it is intense and as if they see direct to your soul.
While it is true that some with classic autism may not like to be touched or seem lost in their own world, it is not true that all with autism spectrum are like this. Some individuals on the spectrum actually crave touch and sensory stimuli to the point of creating it in ways others find strange. They need to feel so much that they get it any way they can. This is where sensory play can really help. There is joy in the simplicity of touch and experiencing the environment this way. When an individual with autism reaches out to you, the feeling is often overwhelmingly pleasing, like nothing you’ve ever known..a new feeling of love and empathy so pure you feel your heart opening in those moments.
The journey of this current rise in ASD may be more about expelling ignorance in society which seems to be the real epidemic. The extraordinary gifts these children bring to society may well be a coming of more empathy and love in a world so detached and violent. Perhaps we can all learn something from these children who do not lie, or judge or play mind games. For these children it doesn’t usually even register that they are different. They simply live in a world of love and joy whether or not those around them can see. Is it those living outside their world who are disconnected.. or those with autism spectrum? The question to ‘typical’ society seems silly. Often these children are labeled as lost in their own world, disconnected, lacking eye contact, lacking communication and social skills. However for families living with children and adults on the Autism Spectrum we know that often.. it is the other way around.