Our progress as parents arises from positivity. We use words like “differences” and “strengths.” We look for coping skills and strategies. We tone it down, tune it up, and take life 15 minutes at a time. This makes our family strong.
But we are greedy.
We want to change the world.
So we join the flourishing tribes of allies, autists, and kin striving to eradicate outdated myths.
I would like to share autism positivity from three perspectives of the autism spectrum:
As the mother of an autistic child.
As the daughter of a father with Asperger’s syndrome.
As an autistic adult.
At six years old, Tyoma is a remarkable child. Most are struck by his intellect and vocabulary. Tyoma loves projects. He embraces each one with unrelenting enthusiasm and meticulous design. You can find him building LED displays or creating fonts on Fontstruct. A language lover, Tyoma has taught himself Japanese hiragana and he can even read you highlights from your Toyota manual. He is quirky in a charming, innocent fashion; endearing himself with unusual observations and out-of-the-box thinking.
Dad has always been a collector and an adventurer. Before marrying my Mom in the 60s, he split his time between working on his Ph.D. (mathematics!) and collecting minerals. He even took a job in the Alaskan goldmines so he could add a few specific specimens to his treasury. After marrying mom, Dad became a collector of photographs. Their website hosts images from their trips to the Great Barrier Reef, Galapagos Islands, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and many other destinations.
I blush to pat myself on the back, so I asked my husband to name my most positive characteristic. Without hesitation, said “empathy.” I laughed. Empathy is a characteristic not often associated with autism. He is correct, however. Autism boosts my empathy. Emotional regulation issues allow me to experience emotions intensely—I am a sensitive person. Processing the emotional states of others is hard work for me. Body language, facial expressions, and cues other than spoken words are continuously monitored. This combination of effort and sensitivity opens my heart. I care how people feel and I long to nurture, soothe, and support.