Apparently April is autism awareness month. I’ve seen some activities described as autism acceptance. I’ve seen ‘don’t support x.. they marginalise autistic persons’.. I’ve seen it all.
What I’ve not seen is anyone who shares my view.
I’m actually starting to sound like this is my soapbox, but it’s just because it’s so topical at the moment. They even lit up the town hall blue for autism this week.. (Oh and ive also seen an online row about what colour should be the ‘light up’ colour for autism- it seems people will row about anything).
I’ve bulldozed Amy into playing rugby. Yes I know she doesn’t even weigh 5 stone, has a waist smaller than her 6yr old sister and doesn’t like dirt.. but sure. Despite both grannies (Is it not quite violent?), her dad (im not sure about that) and her aunt (Amy will get broken), I took her anyway.
Once she got past seeing someone she knew in the car park and therefore refusing to leave the car.. it was grand! As she was ready to get out of the car she said.. mum did you tell him (the coach) about my…. you know… ass…?
If you mean aspergers Amy (if it’d been Lucy I’d be pretty sure she meant bum), then no I did not. I don’t really think it’s relevant.. what I did say as she stepped round the side of a muddy puddle to get on to the pitch (sigh) was, ‘Amy’s quite shy’. Now if you ask me, that describes her rather than puts her in a box. It also didn’t make me sound like the sideline mother from hell, nor send him into a tailspin wondering what he needed to do or not do with her. If autism awareness had come as far as all the jigsaw car stickers I’ve seen hope it has, we’d not need to mention it at all. i reckon. But I’m aware this is not a popular view.
If autism awareness really made people aware that I’d say on average a third of children in every class would have a personality trait, a sensitivity, sensory issue, anxiety or worry which may (if we were to assess..which we won’t) suggest that they might (if we dehumanised it all) be on the autistic spectrum.. then I think what we’d be looking at is individual difference and how we actually relate to each person on an individual basis, taking their particular traits into account.
I’m lucky to have several good friends. Ive used them all in explaining to Amy how friendships work. I’ve discussed their personality traits with her and pointed out several things about my friends to her which make her feel less different. She can see commonalities with adults that she knows I love and that’s how she is learning that everyone is different. Friendships are different with each person that you are friends with. Conversations are different depending on how you know a person, how well you know them, how much fun you have together or how much you have in common with them. She’s also learning that you can have conversations without any of those variables as I seem to have the kind of face that people tell their life story to, even in a queue in marks and Spencer for example. In fact I have a good friend that I met in a toilet once many years ago…!
Having read more about autism these last few days than ever before, I’m hearing parent voices, not those of autistic people. Do they want to stand out as different? I’d say if you were to ask a mainstream class if anyone had autism would they please stand up, that might actually be cruel. So why are we hearing so much about marginalising so many children who want to be understood. Understanding autism is a biggie.. but we don’t need to understand it all, only that which relates to those children and adults we come across, live with, work with, play with. But that’s not about understanding autism. It’s about knowing a person.. what they like, what makes them comfortable and what makes them tick. Each person is different. Autistic or not.
I’m sure teachers would find that many of the soft skill interventions that benefit autistic pupils would also benefit the whole class. So let’s focus on just being generally more sensitive to people. Please.
(She’s loving rugby by the way.. she’s so proud of herself which is just wonderful 🏉❤)