April is National Autism Awareness Month, a time when families, friends and advocates highlight the challenges of autism, a complex disorder of brain development characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.
According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a whopping one in 88 children are on the autism spectrum – and it’s not just those afflicted who are affected.
Countless lives are impacted by the disorder, from parents and siblings to teachers and therapists. Nobody who loves somebody with autism is immune to the very real way it affects—and changes—their lives forever.(Source: Fox News)
In recognition of Autism Awareness month, the following is a repost from September of last year:
Different not Less
My friend Tamara suggested I watch a movie several months ago. I got busy doing other things, but said movie arrived from Netfix last week and I sat down and watched it Monday afternoon. The movie is called Temple Grandin:
Temple Grandin has a brilliant mind, but she’s right, she’s not like other people. For most children diagnosed as autistic in the 50s and 60s, the outlook was grim. Doctors classified autistics as infantile schizophrenics. It was common practice to have them institutionalized. When Temple was 4 years old, her mother was told she would likely never speak, that there was no cure for autism. The doctor who diagnosed her recommended that Temple be put in to an institution. Fortunately, her mother refused to believe her daughter could not improve.
The story of Temple Grandin is one of great personal triumph, but it is also the story of people in her life who understood that she had so much to offer the world; that she was different, not less. Most notably for me was her mother, who understood that even though many of the social morrells were foreign and often frightening to her, she insisted that her daughter conform to them because the world was never going to conform to her. The following is a very telling interview with the real Temple Grandin:
Grandin’s autism may have been a social handicap, but it was her autism which allowed her mind to work in a way most people’s don’t. She thinks in pictures and finite details which most people miss. As she said in the above interview, her center-track restraint system is used in over half the cattle handling facilities in North America.
One of my favorite lines from the movie is when Grandin says, “Nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be.” She was referring to the treatment of the cattle before they are slaughtered, but it goes beyond that. I despise that we are so often cruel to each other when we don’t have to be. We are all so different, but in many ways so much the same. We all want to be loved, to be of value and worth. When we acknowledge our differences it doesn’t mean we proclaim our acknowledgement is an endorsement of their ideas being correct and/or true, only that they have the right to their ideas. When we refuse this right, I think we need to examine our hearts and ask ourselves why ideas different from our own (or the people who have them) pose a threat to us. We can conform to graciousness without conforming to what we don’t agree with.
If you have an opportunity to see this movie, I would highly recommend it, especially if someone in your life falls under the autism spectrum. Not only is it a wonderful true story, it is also the best visual explanation inside the mind of an autistic that I’ve ever seen.