Is seeing autism as a limitation the real limitation?
No matter how much the oak wants to be a maple tree, or how hard it believes, or how much therapy you give it, it is an oak tree, and as an oak tree, by its nature, it makes acorns.
Asking it to struggle to be a maple tree for its survival, is unfair.
Both Trees, Different Gifts
The maple tree makes maple syrup, and the oak tree makes acorns. Both are equally valid as trees, one is not intrinsically better than the other, but they were not created to be the same. That’s the divine plan.
That is part of the beauty of the diversity of the universe, and it is a principle you can depend on. The fruit of the tree depends on what kind of tree. Lemon trees don’t make oranges, ever.
But whether it is an oak or a maple, a tree still has to find a way to adapt itself to survive in the environment in which it is planted.
Similar to the oak and maple, an individual with autism has a mind that works a certain way. It is simply and beautifully what it is…a mind that operates differently than a neuro-typical mind.
Autistic Versus Neurotypical Mind
Unless you mistakenly try to reform an autistic mind to a perform like a neurotypical mind (in which case you may believe it is bad or broken or sick or wrong) it is none of those things. It is different. Like the oak and maple.
The autistic mind has many strengths that a neurotypical mind does not possess, and so the neurotypical person needs to compensate in those areas to be equal. There are other areas where the strengths of a neurotypical mind out-perform a mind with autism, so there is a need for compensation in those areas. We all compensate somehow to survive.
“The expectations placed on our loved ones with autism by some people, are akin to expecting maple syrup from an oak tree.”
Unfortunately, the world tends to get very judgmental in its ignorance and lack of appreciation for the differences between how the autistic and neurotypical mind work. Put simply, the world is geared toward neuro-typical thinking, and probably always will be. This is a great source of frustration to many people on the autism spectrum. (Click here to read Why Does Autism Appreciation Really Matter?)
The expectations placed on our loved ones with autism by some people, are akin to expecting maple syrup from an oak tree. If that is your expectation, you will certainly find “limitations.” (Click here to read What is Autism? Limitations Redefined.)
Acceptance Versus Stigma
Perhaps a hefty dose of simple acceptance coupled with an accurate understanding of what autism is, (and how it influences the thinking of an individual) is the first step toward integrating these beloved people into our world community more effectively, if not more graciously and with more appreciation for who they are by nature.
As children with autism begin to grow into adults, many realize that they are different in some ways, and often feel excruciating pain and stress over trying to “fit in,” or function like other young adults they know.
This can be accompanied by the painful perspective that they are not being accepted as they are, for who they are, but rather are expected to figure out how to be like the “norm,” while simultaneously feeling like that is never possible.
Many individuals from teens and young adults to mature adults and even seniors experience a deep sense of frustration, discouragement, and depression as a result.
Find out if you know what you need to know to help those you care about with autism, especially your teens and young adults, succeed in finding their best life! (Click here to read about our Training for Parents.)