Sunday, September 7, 2014

Standing on the outside, looking in...

It is not a big secret that people with Autism have a hard time trying to find their footing in the social sphere. Either their stimming or social awkwardness tends to put people off. Which very quickly makes them the targets of the bullies of the world. But has anyone ever asked a person with Autism what it is like to try and navigate through this world that doesn't fully understand them, yet let alone accept them?

I ask these questions, as more and more stories are becoming news worthy of bullying those with special needs. As a parent of a children who are special needs, I often wonder what its like for them trying to make friends or trying to fit in to clique. Imagine standing outside of a place that you so desperately want to get into, not having the tools or the courage to either get in or walk inside. They try and try to find a way in, but in the end it is unsuccessful. Watching your ASD child go through this is heartbreaking, as you know just what kind of special person they are. In fact its quite painful.

Watching my daughter, especially trying to become her own person in a world that doesn't understand her, is both terrifying and enlightening. It is a learning experience for her as much as it is for me. I remember when I was her age and the cruelty of the children in my class towards those who were different. It was a different time, but attitudes remain the same at this level. For her, I see the emergence of self awareness. Knowing who she is, but with that comes the vulnerability of letting the outside world see her for who she is. Watching her try to figure out why she is excluded from things. Or why she gets dropped when a cooler kids comes around. I can see those gears turning inside her head, but she has that look of being on the outside looking in. That sense of maybe this is not where I belong.Trying to find people who will stick by her.. I know in time, she will find her own tribe. The people who will love her for who she is. The people that will see past what makes her different. The people who call upon her to share in laughter and friendship. But right now, she is trying find a way in. Trying to find those people who will open the door and let her in. As she is learning how to deal with the social sphere of being an Autistic, I want her to know that she is important. That she is worthy of people who accept her and see past the autism. It will be a hard lesson for both her and I to learn. It doesn't stop with just my daughter, even though, my youngest is still young, its how the world accepts him that I worry about.

Children with Autism, are misunderstood. Society sees the meltdowns, the over stimulation, the delays or every other thing that is associated with Autism. They see the non verbal child as dumb or unresponsive. But what they don't see, is this child that is full of life. Full of love. Full of so much to offer as a human being. They are unforgiving to those who shun them, for all they want to have is companionship. A friend.

Teach your children what it means to include and accept someone that is different from them. Children learn from example. Even though my children may seem different from the rest of the world, they are taught to see everyone as an equal. No one is less of a person because of how and who they are. They are still human beings with emotions and the ability to feel. Just because they might not have the tools to express fully how they are feeling doesn't mean they don't feel sad or hurt when you treat them differently or negatively.

Do me a favor... 

I want people to imagine standing outside a place you really want to go into. A restaurant or a store, whatever that place may be, and for what ever reason you are not capable of going into that place. And as you are standing outside trying to look in, what do you feel? That desire and need to go it but can't. Sense of defeat and sadness right? Damn I wish I could go in there. Looks fun. That is what it feels when you exclude a person from your social sphere. And sadly, that is what many ASD children feel like when trying to fit in. Be that person that opens the door and welcomes them in, to place that is supportive and accepting.