It’s time that we collectively begin to listen to what autism spectrum people are telling us. I don’t mean listen with our ears, I mean with our hearts. Our Aspergers and ASD children have a message for us – and it’s not about what they need from us, it’s about what we need from them: a new paradigm. An autistic revolution is beginning.
Yes, autism spectrum disorders are challenging if one wants to live a functional life on this planet. But our ASD children are showing us something important about the way forward for us, as individuals and as a planet. If we could learn to follow their lead, instead of labeling them as “dysfunctional”, we could move forward more quickly in the changes we are experiencing as a planet.
What is your ASD child demonstrating?
- How to follow his or her passions. Your ASD child understands better than most people how to follow his / her passion. Why? Because s/he doesn’t have a choice! It’s the only thing that brings him / her true joy. To us, it may look like an escape – and quite possibly it feels that way to your child.
After spending the day at school trying to function in the neuro-typical world, your child probably comes home and needs to immerse him- / herself completely in his / her “thing”, whatever that may be. Why? Because s/he needs to re-set and re-charge.
Ironically, your child was born with an innate knowledge of his / her “purpose” here. It calls to him / her and s/he can’t be happy unless s/he follows that call. Ask yourself how many people you know who love what they do for a living – who would do it even if they didn’t get paid for it. If you’re like most, you don’t know many people like that. And yet, ASD people were born that way!
- How to live less in “ego mode”. If your ASD child is typical, s/he is probably not the, “Me first, me first, me first!” type of kid. Yes, autism spectrum people need what they need and they make that very clear, but it is seldom “as compared to everyone else”. Their needs come from within.
Most neuro-typicals want to get ahead, and this is something that starts at a very young age. When I say “get ahead”, I mean ahead of everyone else, of course. We gauge our level of success as compared to the outside world – our peers – and from there decide if we’re doing pretty well or not.
Most autism spectrum people are not like this by nature. Yes, they will begin to compare themselves to others if others teach them to do so by pointing out that they aren’t “measuring up”. However, this comparison is something the ASD child learns from being made to feel inadequate.
- How to follow his or her inner guidance. This is one of my favorite things about autism spectrum people. It’s something you need to try to understand about your ASD child if you want him / her to be truly happy. Your ASD child’s inner voice is much louder than the outer voice and s/he can’t switch that off in order to get on better in the neuro-typical world.
For most of us, we do have an inner voice but we allow feedback from the outer world to take precedence. If the inner and outer do not agree, we take the outer as “truth” and adjust the inner to match – or just turn it down in order to get along.
If you truly want to understand your ASD child, it is vital to appreciate that autism spectrum people are not able to do this – at least not very well. Their inner voice is their truth – period.
Yes, by all means, teach your child ways to act and react that will work for him / her in a neuro-typical world, but it needs to be in a way that doesn’t compromise his / her inner truth. Trying to get him / her to override that inner voice based on outer feedback the way most people do is damaging and ultimately s/he will become unhappy.
- How to revitalize him- / herself by going into a rich inner world. If your ASD child is like most, s/he has a vivid inner world where s/he goes to re-energize, process things and simply be. This is like an “alternate reality” for the ASD person and is vital to his / her wellbeing. (Often, retreating to this inner world is a sign that your child is becoming overwhelmed.)
Very often, s/he will “stim” (repetitive, often strange-looking movement) while s/he is there or s/he will stim in order to get into that place. I know that many parents would like to wean their ASD child off of this particular habit because, 1) The “stimming” causes social problems because it looks odd, and 2) the “zoning out” can cause problems in school and in other situations.
By all means, help your child learn to control this “zoning out” so that s/he can better learn when and where it’s safe to do. Also, when your child is older, you can try to help him / her find alternative types of “stimming” that will look less odd – trading hand flapping for pacing, for example. Pacing is more acceptable than hand flapping.
However, it’s important to accept that your child needs to be able to zone out. It’s important for his / her well-being, so please don’t try to stop him / her doing it altogether!
Your Aspergers / Autism Spectrum child is magnificent. S/he is a part of the autistic revolution that is beginning on this planet. Our ASD children are showing us the way forward by demonstrating how we need to adapt our global consciousness. They are showing us the new paradigm by living example. We would do well to listen to their message.