Accept and respect our differences and prevent it from becoming the center of any relationships.
The world will be a better place to live in only if we start to embrace the differences and celebrate the individuality.
What children today need, is to develop the ability to function in this world beyond their classrooms. And to achieve this, mainstreaming and inclusion is the right way to turn to, where typically developing children and children with special needs are learning together. And in this space they get to learn much more than just academics as here an atmosphere is created of compassion, tolerance and understanding. The beauty of this structure is to see kids who have no idea about all the labelling that we do, and yet how beautifully they understand each other. How they get along by adjusting to each other’s challenges and short comings, and how they help each other to cope with the situations and how they find their own way to coexist.
I also believe that a little knowledge and familiarity about Children with special needs will help in terms of better acceptance and more tolerance. So here we go..……..
This time about Autism
Before I list out things, let’s get few things right.
Fundamentally, all human beings are created equal, worthy of the same respect, dignity, rights and access. Equality regardless of race, sex, religion, gender, culture, disability, number of limbs, intelligence and the list goes on is the right of all. Being autistic and therefore neurodivergent does have some different outworking’s in the way they put their life together.
Commonly they have differences in communication, sensory, and social aspects of life. All these are difference and not a deficit.
Their communication is different because they process information differently. in the realm of both verbal and non-verbal. They process sensory input differently and so their emotional, physical and intellectual responses to that input are also different. Their social interactions are also different, because of the combination of the way they experience the world due to the different neurological build that they are born with.
Let me explain this further……
- They may appear uncaring and unsympathetic to others, but believe me they are just simply waiting for you to enter their world so that they can show you how much they love you.
- They might not make eye contact and so be unable to interpret facial expressions or sarcasm. They are totally fine with you telling them what you actually mean.
- They may make social faux paus by standing too close while talking; all you need to do is let them know the right way of conduct in public.
- They speak uncomfortable truths and embarrass you or others, if you are not ready for the truth, all you need to do is to not ask for it.
- They might flap their hands or Stim because it provides a sensory input that helps them regulate the neurological state. Just like how you would bite your nails or shake your legs when you are tensed….
- They just might cover their ears at loud noises or shut their eyes at pulsing flash lights because it helps them deal with the sensory overload. Yes their sensory issues are huge and beyond our comprehension, which means they see, hear, smell, taste and feel in different ways. For example, the feel of grass under their feet may make them upset, the sound of a car horn may hurt their ears, the smell of vinegar may make them cry, or the texture of upma in their mouths may make them gag. When they say no just respect their NO.
- Their intonation might be less varied than others. But if all of us spoke alike the world would be so boring….
- They follow certain routines and get anxious about being unable to complete a routine. Help them finish what they started.
- They may become agitated at sudden changes to the agenda, so it’s a good idea to keep them posted on what’s the plan for tomorrow. Unlike us they don’t like surprises.
- They may not use their mouth parts to talk. Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say. They are communicating what they feel even without saying a word. All you need to do is watch.
Autism is not, and never has been a disease; it is an expression of human difference and diversity. The world needs all kinds of minds.
Autism has always been around us only the numbers are increasing by years.
It is time we know that it is not our differences that divide us, it’s our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences that do.