Monday, June 17, 2013

Being Autistic

Ever go to another country where you don't speak the language?  Imagine being lost in the middle of a busy city, not sure where to go or who to ask in order to get where you need to be.  The city is bustling with activity and you are isolated, alone, scared, and lost.  Soon people start to notice you and try to help, they keep asking you questions that you don't understand and you look at them with a puzzled expression.  Soon they start speaking louder, thinking that will make you understand them better.  Your eyes widen and you stare blankly...

This is a close approximation as to how an Autistic person feels, as described by a typical person.  I have found that many people don't understand Autism because it isn't something you can see with your eyes.  We can tell when a person with a hearing impairment can't hear, so we don't go screaming at them to make them understand us.  We teach them sign language and soon the mind opens up and can express thoughts, feelings, and complex concepts to the world.  The same holds true for an Autistic person.  The typical person cannot see the impairment in the Autistic mind.  It is hidden behind a cute child's face, or behind an attractive man or woman's smile.  But the difference still exists, and we are at fault if we continually try to communicate with them over and over in the same way expecting different results.

Every Autistic person learns differently, so there is no one way to "fix" a person with Autism.  There is no drug, no magic cure.  We must learn how each particular person learns, and create a language that they understand to unlock the potential in their minds and let them express themselves to the world.  We need to bridge the communication gap.  Some people learn better visually, some verbally, others in the written word.  But we need to get even more specific than that.  Some Autistic individuals respond to the written word over the typed word, or the reverse.  Others respond to sign language, but sometimes that sign language has to be tactile, letting the person feel the words and letters instead of just seeing them.  There are infinite ways of communicating, and each and every method must be thought of and experimented with until a breakthrough is made.

The point is, we need to make the system of figuring out how to communicate with each individual as the focus, and not try to find one specific fix.  Everyone is different, and teaching the typical child or adult in this way, using a variety of methods, will do nothing but benefit everyone.  Being clear, concise, and thorough.  Something we all can benefit from.

Jaclyn Hunt
@asnlifecoach on Twitter, AutismAndSpecialNeedsLifeCoach on Facebook

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