"Colourful People in Heart Shape"
I’ve been discussing the topic of “Autism Awareness” with some other mums recently, and one of the most impassioned phrases, which became the core of our conversation was – “How can we help with strengthening the message for all?”
We all, as parents and carers of our children on the Spectrum, hope that the awareness and understanding of the Autism Spectrum will become ‘universal’ one day, and that complete acceptance and respect of their beingness will just be.
But for this to be realized, the compassion, empathy and soulfulness of those who may struggle with concepts of understanding the uniqueness and individuality inherent in humanity, needs to be captured in a way that information offered for understanding and accepting those on the Spectrum is provided in a non-confronting, non-aggressive way so as to glean positive interest and a willingness to listen and observe.
Some people are innocently unaware of the dynamics of the Autism Spectrum and may keenly listen to information offered, and yet there are others who may feel that if a subject has nothing to do with their lives, they are not interested. This may be upsetting for some who are living with or associated with the Spectrum – but realistically, as the old saying goes – “You can’t lead a horse to water”. Not everyone will, unfortunately, want to listen to the important ‘awareness’ messages, but many others will.
One thing which I feel is important, when advocating for and aiming to create awareness of the Autism Spectrum to family, friends and the wider community, one must be vigilant in being sensitive to autistic persons awareness that they are being spoken about and support rallied on their behalf. We must ‘work’ with our autistic friends and family members and always keep in mind the dignity, rights and feelings of the person on the Spectrum. Sometimes exposing, for example, a behaviour challenge of an autistic child/teen/adult to the public eye may end up being a vision of humiliation for the autistic person.
There are some videos and exposés illustrating perceived typical behaviours (etc.) of a person on the Autism Spectrum which are beautifully, respectfully and honourably presented for others to learn about Autism from. But, there are also some ‘illustrations’ (through video etc.) which are not in the same category of dignity and respect, which, when the autistic person realizes (becomes aware) of such an ‘exposé’, this may be a source of humiliation and disdain. There can sometimes be a very fine line between getting the ‘awareness’ message out there and combining such with respecting the dignity of the person on the Spectrum.
There are many wonderful organizations, groups, individuals and persons on the Spectrum doing a fine job in creating and increasing awareness of the Spectrum. I hope I am perceived as being one of these persons who supports and advocates in such a positive manner. After all, the Autism Spectrum is very dear to my heart and an indelible part of my own family life.
Some, who may not have reached a level of understanding, empathy and awareness which we may hope for, may be ones who perhaps have not experienced a relationship with a person on the Spectrum; whose own life experiences may not have availed them of a willingness to be open to embracing the differences of their fellow ‘man’; whose ‘belief system’ may not allow the inclusion of others who are different to or oppose what they perceive as ‘normal’ or acceptable to them; or whose fear of difference holds them back from breaking down such self-held barriers and allowing themselves to be free to learn and be open to new ideas and information, and/or to experience reciprocal communication with another.
For those who do warmly and openly embrace difference (differing abilities) and welcome learning about what others can show them, teach them and enrich their understanding of the infinite and diverse skills abounding in this world all peoples can offer, will be the ones who don’t need ‘convincing’ or impressions made upon them of the uniqueness of another. Such persons may seek to learn more and/or help others to be open to gaining such knowledge and understanding. Some may become concerted advocates for those who deserve greater understanding and support.
So, if I may, I’d like to offer a ‘list’ below of some personal elements which need to be inherent in one if they are to be truly able and willing to experience awareness, acceptance and understanding of the Autism Spectrum and the wonderful persons who live with such as a unique part of their lives.
To be AWARE, UNDERSTAND and ACCEPT one is able to offer another
Recognition of differing abilities and acknowledgement
Respect of ones being
Recognition of individuality
Acceptance of ones right to be and value to self and others
Belief that each of us has a place in this world
Willingness to communicate and respond in a respectful manner
See no barriers between communicating souls (religious, cultural, ethnicity, age, sex [M/F] etc.)
Recognize human rights and right to be unique
To whom we promote AWARENESS of the Autism Spectrum;
Some or many will see;
Some or many will see and hear;
Some or many will, see, hear and listen;
Some or many will, see, hear, listen and care;
Some or many will see, hear, listen, care and embrace;
Some or many will see, hear, listen, care, embrace and want to learn more.
Blessings and peace to all