Some may say it’s a strange place to start when writing a blog, but Winnie the Pooh’s Little Book of Wisdom has helped me out this morning. I did think of lots of different topics, but when I sat down to write non of them seemed quite right.
So in the words of Winnie the Pooh
“Everybody is all right really. That’s what I think”
I can almost guarantee that some people reading this will disagree, as they may have had a disappointing or frustrating week. I know of other people who are on the whole very negative about everything and everyone, so they will disagree too. But for me I do believe in this statement. Ok some people can be difficult or reluctant to help, but on the whole people are all the same, they may face a situation from a different view point or have a different agenda to you, but does not automatically make them wrong.
We are also very unique and our uniqueness should never be compromised. This is where my passion to understand autism comes from. They should be encouraged to be themselves and society should adapt to meet their individuality. Society has done this in the past, it is more acceptable to be gay, if you have cancer you are not shunned or seen as infectious, the world is changing to accept AIDS, and people with learning disabilities are not locked away in asylums. So society can change if plenty people support it.
Autism is a hidden disability or condition, by trying to make the individual fit into the neurotypical world they are being denied their individuality and their uniqueness and any change in society is being prevented. So I call for parents and friends, teachers and advocates across the country (and the world) to stand up and raise awareness, stop hiding a hidden disability by pretending it is not there or that people can be ‘trained’ to be the same. Celebrate uniqueness and individuality, allow people to be who they are and not what you think they should be. Accept that difference is good and that everybody is all right really.
Everybody knows at least one person who thinks they know all they need to know. They will either be the person who wont listen or take your advice as their don’t need to know what you are telling them or they already know what you are telling them (or at the very least think they do).
I hope I am not one of those people. Although I know that I can become a bit obsessive in my thinking. I like to be in control but I am willing to listen to other people and change my thoughts if I need to. Why am I talking about this today? Well this week I have had at least two instances that have made me question myself. The first was an incident at work. I was talking to a colleague about the plans for a session and I made a few suggestions on changes I thought would work. These were not taken on board and the session did run to any sort of order or result in any achievements. I wonder if my suggestions had been considered if the results would have been more positive.
The second was incident was related to one of my tweets; Flapping or ‘stimming’ is a necessary part of daily life for some children; do not try to stop it. This tweet became the topic for a 3 day long argument. Maybe I was wrong in the information given, but I don’t think so.
The argument was that as children grow up their stimming may be the instigator of bullying and so stimming should be prevented or the child should only be allowed to stim at home and only then within certain boundaries. I can see this point of view, but the tweet did say that “’stimming’ is a necessary part of daily life for some children”. If the child is able to understand the concept that stimming may result in bullying then they could possibly be able to control it. As Autism is a spectrum disorder every child is different, some children will not see the connection, never understand the connection or ever be able to control their stimming.
Another point was made that society will never change its attitude to Autism so the children must learn to fit into society. I would like to think that society can change, but by hiding the already hidden disability by pretending to be ‘normal’ then society will not see the problems and will never accept them.
Every person I have ever met has some sort of habit or sign of unease; it may be biting nails or chewing the inside of their lip, stuttering, inability to stand or sit still, talking too fast, swearing, or doodling. None of these are seen as socially unacceptable and I cannot see much of a difference between these and stimming.
As I said I don’t presume to know everything, but I do think that I can back up any of the statements I make on twitter or in person. Autism is a complex condition that can never be understood by one person. As a parent you know your child, as a teacher you may know a number of individual children. Every one id different and will need different levels of support at different times of the day. So allow your child to be individual, teach them what is important to their level of understanding, and enjoy the differences. As Wendy Lawson said it’s a differbility not a disability.