Can you see the real me…
When my eyes look lost and my self withdrawn,
I suddenly smile, twirl and flap my hands…
I am not mad; I am just into my own World.
When I step into your World, you stare me, you pity me…
I don’t like it but I can’t say it…
I am no alien; I am just a Child with Autism.
Today is World Autism Day. How much do we know about Autism? I bet, not much. I see these children almost every day and they are no different. They are just like any other child you see running carefree, throwing tantrums, full of energy – just one difference – they are happy in their world, self-occupied.
Autism is a disorder that effect 1 in every 100 children. It impacts their speech and social interaction unlike the thought that their minds are messed up. Wikipedia provides vital information about the issue. We have organizations like Action For Autism and Autism Speaks to help parents, care takers, teachers.
I believe there is lot of difference in what we know and what we don’t understand about the world of autism.
What we know: They perform repetitive behavior.
What we don’t understand: It makes them feel safe. Aren’t you afraid to step out in dark and foggy nights, it is the same for them. World is filled with unknown things that they don’t understand, it scares them.
What we know: They don’t know how to express their feelings.
What we don’t understand: Their intelligence is above average, the ones we call brainy. Their intelligence can’t be quantified by how much they communicate.
What we know: They can’t strike a conversation and engage you in interesting revelations.
What we don’t understand: Talk about their topic of interest and they can go on about it for hours and hours.
What we know: They are always lost, self-indulged, don’t understand the world.
What we don’t understand: They are passionate about whatever they do. If nurtured right, they are super achievers. Today world revels in the inventions and discoveries of Charles Darwin, Newton and Albert Einstein. They all had one or the other form of Autism. World bows to them today.
What we know: They are anti-social. They don’t socially interact.
What we don’t understand: They don’t despise people. They don’t know how to break the ice and fit in. On the contrary,do we make an effort to involve them?
What we know: They don’t pick on non-verbal cues, body language.
What we don’t understand: They are the purest and the most honest people you will ever meet. They don’t know how to play with your mind.
I have seen sympathy, pity, curious looks and disgusting stares given to these children. And it is all because of ignorance and misconceptions. For once, try and understand their world and blur the boundaries. They struggle every day to claw their way out of their dark dungeon, some days they succeed, some days they don’t. But the struggle continues. They have to live with it for their whole life. Yes, therapies, bio-medical intervention helps but these are ways of teaching them how to deal with it and overcome their impairment.
And many have succeeded. People like Donna Williams (best selling author), Satoshi Tajiri (creator of Pacman), Matt Savage (jazz prodigy) are all ridden with Autism and have taught people to open up their minds and accept them for their talent and not by a diagnosis that is just one aspect of their life.
The last thing these children need is discrimination. When I see them happy and playing, I see only one question in their eyes, I am Different, but aren’t you?