though all you see is slick glass
below razor sharp clouds, it moves.
first with the skimming of mosquito’s feet
insect toes, needle mouths lifting
to sticky red cells. then with the
mating bodies of the dragon flies
joined contortionists, eight wings
moving to silent drums.
though all you feel is warm mist
against your bushy brow, it knows
each living thing. from the murky green moss
determined to curtain the window sky
creeping forward around the silent lake
to the trail of silver bubbles
left by fallen pebble rock.
though you hear only the
clicking of stamen stained teeth, it speaks
in the white steel towers of silicon valley
in hoover dam, the locomotive
the electric motor, the theory of relativity
in gregor mendel’s study of pea plants.
in every color, every country,
My youngest son has been struggling at church lately. He's four, has a new teacher, and is resistant to change. The inflexible thinking is not his fault as he's on the autism spectrum. When one of his teachers handed him over yesterday with the words, "He did much better today. What did you do?" I had to explain how my son's mind works.
The teacher then went on to suggest I put him on a glutton free diet. Because everyone knows autism is caused by allergies to chemicals and wheat glutton. Please note I put that last sentence in italics. My less-than-obvious attempt at sarcasm.
Autism . . . I'm actually cringing while writing that word. Not because there's anything wrong with it, but because of the picture that springs to mind the moment I say or hear it. It's the picture of a child who struggles to speak because they're trapped in their own private world, who rocks back and forth, makes funny sounds, and throws tantrums in public places.
While I won't go so far as to say this image is wrong, I will say this. While 1 in 150 people are on the autism spectrum. 1 in 250 of them are high functioning . . . this means they have at least average intelligence and are more than capable of speaking for themselves. For those of you math challenged like me, that means high functioning individuals make up two thirds of those on the spectrum. And there are some very famous people who displayed behavior and thinking patterns consistent with autism:
Here are some more modern examples:
John Elder Robison
For the majority of people on the autism spectrum, the diagnosis is not as hopeless as many books, movies, and fund raising propaganda would have the general public believe.
Is it a handicap? . . . Yes.
Is it devastating for some people? . . . Yes.
Are there advantages to having autism? . . . For some people, yes.
In my children it's less a disability and more a different way of thinking. They're seeing the world from under the water instead of from above. They have gifts, strengths, things that make them unique. More than a label.
Sadly, I rarely use the word autism with strangers, choosing instead to call it aspergers, the term is accurate, but is less shrouded in negative stereotypes and misconceptions. As this is autism/ADD awareness month, I will be posting about autism/aspergers for the rest of the week.
So tell me. How do you see autism? Has advertising colored your thinking?