Autism Awareness is very important. Not only to the rest of the world, but first of all to people with autism themselves. Unfortunately, some boys and girls with autism are doing their best to disguise it.
Why should someone hide he or she has autism? Is it because the world is too harsh on people with the syndrome?…Is this because he or she is ashamed of being different?… Is it fear for rejection? It probably is one of the three. It is their right, of course. It is their struggles after all, and who am I to affirm they are wrong? However, I have been around enough to know that the only way to fight judgment and ignorance towards autism is to stand up front and be honest about it. To let people know what autism really is, from inside out; who peopel with autism are, their amazing way of thinking.
No wonder people used to link autism to the ‘Rain Man’ concept until a short time ago. Luckily for the autism communities all over the globe, more people with autism are coming out of their shells and telling whoever wants to hear, that autism is nothing to be ashamed of. Talented, smart (young)adults everywhere have been amazing the world with their unique views on various subjects. They are awesome and great. They are people like anyone else, only a bit different in the way they think and perceive life around them.
What parents can do to prevent their children to feel ashamed of their diagnoses
Some parents have an acceptation issue as far as the diagnosis goes. It is natural and understandable, after all not many people want to be pointed out for being different, especially it is not for something considered an asset, like autism (wrongfully) is. After a certain period, that may vary in each case, parents usually come to terms with the diagnosis. That’s the moment they go after all the resources which will help their children to develop continuously. Most parents will eventually tell their children about their condition as autistic. Wheather they are instructed by professionals or not, fathers and mothers will deal with the task of letting their kids know they are different than their peers. The earlier this takes place, the better. Little children have a natural way of accepting anything by experiencing it. In this case, children with autism would often hear they have autism and it is a part of them, getting used to the term and its meaning.
Sometimes parents who never had this conversation with their kids before, will fear that moment when someone else will pop the question to them: “Do you have autism?”. That could be at school, for instance. Children with autism who aren’t used to talk about their syndrome may get anxious at the thought they are different of their peers. Its the parent’s task to make the acknowledgment as subtle as possible, in order to let them know autism is by all means not a bad thing.
Sometimes, although parents’s efforts to make this realization a natural one, will observe that their children aren’t ready to be considered as someone different than others. The very thought might scare them. In this way it would be a good idea to consider taking the child to a professional who would guide the family in this process of acceptation of the diagnosis. Because it is very important to know who the child is. Regardless she will ever tell others about it, in the future. Knowing that a child does what she does, or thinks like she thinks because that is a part of her neurology will give her a sense of self confidence built in the childhood. Let’s remember here, while doing it, to prevent focusing on the child’s limitations but on her abilities.
Often in the period of adolescence a child becoming a teenager will start to fight his diagnosis. Why does it happen? The more interaction a teenager with autism has with neurotypical peers, the lesser inclined he or she will be to talk about his condition. Teenagers don’t like to be different; they only want to be accepted by the group, so they should behave like the group does. This is the moment when serious conversations among parents and children should take place. Even if the parents think it won’t work, they should not give up trying to maintain their teenager as self-confident as possible. Remember that teenagers cannot always make decisions for themselves; they are vulnerable and influencable. If you are a parent, stay put on your view of the situation, weather or not you should encourage your child to stand up for autism.
Most teenagers who fight their diagnosis, will become adults who will keep fighting it, too. They will do anything in their power to avoid situations where autism behavior will be most evident to others. They will maybe be part of autism communities but will remain incognito. They will eventually finish school, get a job or a relationship, without revealing that they have autism. If this works, it is great; if it doesn’t, it is regretful. Unfortunately, the latter is what mostly happens. Adults with autism built too much stress and anxiety to ‘perform normally’ all the time. A job may be difficult to keep, like a relationship as well. Neurotypicals expect too much from their peers. This can be overwhelming to people with autism. What started as an attempt to make part of the normal way of living, may end up being a totally disaster. And all because of a diagnosis.
What successful adults with autism do?
Adults with autism who are successful in life – personally and career wise – are usually the ones who understand that autism is just a part of their personalities. It doesn’t define who they are or what they can do, but it is rather an indicator that they think and perceive things and situations differently than most of the neurotypical people. They know about their limitations and are not ashamed of it, trying to cope with it being honest about it.
Some adults with autism have turned into Autism self-advocates, talking openly about their unique perception of the world, spreading awareness and taking down pre-judgements. Because people fear what people doesn’t know. As people with autism start talking about their syndrome and show the world what they’re capable of, they inspire others to do the same thing. There is no better way to fight for awareness than to stand up for oneself. Autism has a voice and it definitely must be heard, not with shame, but with pride.
“To deny oneself’s nature is to deny oneself the chance to be totally free.”
Fatima de Kwant