Positively Autism

On Saturday, July 9, 2011, we will be presenting “Positively Autism: Parents’ Optimistic Journeys and Success Stories” at the Autism Society of America annual conference in Orlando.

Our decision to create this presentation was a result of working with some parents and caregivers who felt that despair and heartache had taken over their lives. Perhaps this was the result of being in a rut, a plateau in progress, or maybe a series of really bad days.

We felt we needed to help parents and caregivers find a new perspective on autism, so that they could begin to see some shining moments in each day, no matter where their child was on the autism spectrum.

Celebrate the little things: Some children learn quickly, and when they go from A to Z and have mastered the task, we celebrate. For other children, getting from A to Z requires learning every single step in between with deliberate teaching. Instead of focusing on the struggles of getting to Z, learn to celebrate each successful step along the way.

Learning to reframe autism: Why do people use the words “obsessed” or “perseverates” to describe a person with autism who has an extreme interest in something? There is a negative undertone to these words when used in the context of autism.

Exchange “obsessed” for “focused.” Instead of “perseverates” use “perseveres.” We don’t say that the successful businessman is obsessed with his work. We say that he is focused. Imagine the Olympic athlete who trains for years. We don’t say that she perseverates on her sport. We say that she perseveres through hard training. How is this any different for people with autism and their interests?

On a recent trip to Disneyworld, I noticed an adult with a developmental disability waiting in line for “It’s a Small World.” She was so excited and thrilled to be going on this ride. She waved her hands in the air and clapped her hands enthusiastically. Within seconds, her exhilaration had spread to the 20+ people around her, and the crowd began to wave and clap along with her. I wish I could have bottled her infectious delight.

Written by Sheila Knapp


2 Responses to “Positively Autism”

  1. 1 Patricia Bumpass July 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!. For years I have been saying that we as parents of children with Autism need to celebrate what God has blessed us with instead of immediately looking for a cure. By taking the focus off his deficits, I have been able to celebrate and appreciate my son’s accomplishments; and I have been able to encourage others (teachers, physicians, family,etc) to do the same.

    Don’t get me wrong a cure would be wonderful. I would love to be able to carry on a two-sided conversation with my son. I would love to be able to trust him with a key to our apartment so that he can come home after school and take care of himself until I get home. And, while these things have not manifested themselves yet, I know that if I work with what he has then we will get there.

    Thank you again for putting a positive spin on this often misunderstood and challenging disorder.

  1. 1 The first five « Roni's Blog – English 416 Trackback on September 25, 2011 at 3:37 am

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