Go Blue for Autism!



April is Autism Awareness month. 2nd April'15 is being celebrated world over as WAAD (World Autism Awareness Day). Personally, I would prefer calling it both Awareness & Acceptance Day. It is a fact that we do not know much about Autism as a disorder. And because there is lack of awareness about it there is lack of acceptance to it. 

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them (Definition from www.autism.org.uk).

The reason it is called a spectrum disorder because its symptoms range from a mild learning and social disability to a severe one.

This post is about my experience with autistic children  and my understanding on what some of them taught me to value in life



The other day, I noticed a small kid sitting in the same metro coach that I was travelling in. What got my attention to this kid was that he was continuously swiping his phone and after every swipe putting it to his ear. It seemed as if he was listening to some music /tune that he gets every time he swiped his phone. He did not stop in between even for a fraction of a second ( he wasn't tired or bored of it at all) I was a bit surprised while I observed him. He was least interested in the commotion around him. Outside view, people around, noise inside the metro! nothing interested him. All he was interested doing was swiping the phone and then immediately putting it to his ear. I thought about what all funny stuff kids do to keep themselves occupied and I got down at my station next and forgot about it. 

A week later I met 'P' again, the same kid whom I noticed in the metro coach.'P' is very bright and smart kid who comes for his learning classes with his mom to his special school daily. Today, we all were travelling together in the same metro coach back home. I noticed that as soon as the metro started 'P' also started with his game of swiping and putting the mobile phone to his ear. I was informed by his mom that he likes listening to music on her phone but these days he doesn't listen to one song completely. By swiping he starts a song,listens to it a bit and then again swipes it to change and goes to the next one. Since, I was sitting next to him today I noticed that he enjoyed what he was doing. It was his way of creating variation in the music that he listens to. After a few minutes 'P' very gently tapped his phone,closing the app and meticulously putting it on standby mode (he did it like an elderly person would use his/her phone). Then he very gently gave the phone to his mom and sat quietly as if waiting for something. His mom looked at me smiling and said " he always gets to know that we are about to get down at our station. I wonder how!" To my surprise when I heard the announcement the next station was their's.

I don't know if it is the sixth sense that 'P' has or it is just a time bound routine that he does.


Interacting with his mother and family members of a few more autistic children I realized something! Something, that we all forget while trying to manage a 'perfect life'-


Some very basic normal comprehensible human behaviors that we all tend to lose at some point in our lives as we try to achieve perfection:-


Always keep a smile - 'A' with his exceptional sense of directions and routes, always keeps a smile on his face. Whether he is in a mood to interact with you or not but that smile on his handsome face tells you not to lose yours. Inspite of all the difficulty that  he has to go through related to his disorder that smile gently sits on his face. It's as if he is telling his family not to worry so much about him and he will manage just fine in life.


Love for Music - 'S' is at a very young age and gets attracted / reacts to rhythm and music very quickly. Like a Rockstar he keeps himself occupied with humming and sometimes singing loudly "EOEIO" or some other rhyme. It's as if he is working on a new composition while he is learning to be able to lead an independent life at class.

Honesty & Inquisitiveness - Sometime back I had the opportunity to spend time with a few grown up kids who were on different spectrums of autism. Like any non-autistic kid I saw their strength in numbers, art and craft, music and also brilliant photographic memory. They were smart in asking questions about acts and behaviors that were being taught to them to be 'right or wrong' and that why were they 'right or wrong'. It was then I realized that outward appearance doesn't always define the magic inside the person. We all have some or the other area of opportunity in life to develop on and they are all different from each other.

Introspection and content - 'M' the youngest of all the kids, keeps a calm and content composure.(It's only when he wants to stay in the class and wants to follow his mom's instructions:)) While maintaining the same he looks as if like a monk he is concentrating on inner self. Giving himself the unconditional attention, least bothered about what is happening around him. He gives a completely innocent expression of Introspection.

Understanding on the concepts of simplicity, structure, routine - Well ! the concept of visual aid, structure and routine may sound just a few words to non-autistic person. They may not hold much importance in their day to day life. But these concepts are very important for a person on the spectrum of Autism. Routine plays a critical role in helping an autistic child to be independent. And it is very important that s/he is taught with it responsibly and the right way.  The use of such tools may vary depending upon what spectrum the person is on. From what I have understood of it, ROUTINE & SCHEDULE connect an autistic child well to lead an independent life. I realized it well that I should fully respect and adhere to these concepts when I am interacting with someone who is on the spectrum.

Many people still misunderstand Autism as mental retardation in India. It’s still a social stigma which makes it difficult for parents and caregivers of children being treated with ASD to socialize in the society. The fact of the matter is that people suffering from ASD are simply different. Their learning needs and behavior are different (but no less) from a non-Autistic person. Coming from personal experience, there is a lot that neither do I know nor do people around me know much about it. But I am learning and doing my bit to spread its awareness.


Whosoever coined "Always Unique Totally Interesting Sometimes Mysterious" for autism,has coined it aptly!



Image from-autismtopics.org




Image courtesy: Google Images

Comments

  1. I am still wondering as to how "P" came to know about the arrival of his station.
    Reminds me of the two blind men I was observing in the Deccan Queen. Suddenly one of them said "Lonavala ala vathe" (I think we are approaching Lonavala) I was trying to figure out how he correctly judged that.

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  2. A good an informative post. Most of us have very little experience with autistic people.

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  3. Recently, I attended a cultural programme by autistic children. Their performance - dance and song - was impressive.

    Really, it is Always Unique, Totally Interesting, Sometimes Mysterious. You say very correctly that we forget this while managing our 'perfect' lives.

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  4. What a great informative post! It is great to make people more aware of this disability.. Thanks for sharing, have a happy day!

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  5. Nice post. We all need to stop seeing labels and look at people - autism, religion, etc, etc!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  6. There is so much we can learn from them... we should in fact be grateful to these beautiful souls. Kudos for raising awareness, Shweta.

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