Although, clearly, #thedress is gold and white, I'm not here to argue or belabor the point because quite frankly, I'm so over it that I kind of wish an alien would beam me up so I can stop reading about it, hearing about it and (please accept my apology) blogging about it. However, before I depart with little green men and take up residence on some planet light years away (I sure hope they are more advanced than Pennsylvania and they sell wine in their local food mart), I have to admit that #thedress got me thinking. According to what I've read by so called, "experts", it seems to me, that depending on how you see something, really influences what you see.
While perusing social media last week, not only did I discover that if you see #thedress in white and gold colors that means you are more prone to loving Justin Beiber (seriously aliens, just beam me up now), I also discovered while reading two very different posts on autism (having NOTHING to do with #thedress, say hallelujah), that people tend to see an autism diagnosis in varying colors too.
The other post I read, was written by a young man living with autism. Clearly, this man has his own struggles with autism, but, he is able to communicate his basic wants and needs while advocating for acceptance and neurodiversity and being somewhat offended by those who want his autism cured. In this young man's mind, he does not see his autism as an illness, a disease, or something that needs cured, he sees autism as a different way of thinking, a different way of being and all he wants is for the world to see his side too. This young man living with autism does not see the need for a cure because in his mind, taking away his autism means taking away a huge part of who he is, and he is quite happy being exactly him.
White and gold, blue and black. How you see it, influences what you see and when it comes to autism, how and what you see, all depends on your view from the spectrum.
Just like I see #thedress as being white and gold, I see an autism diagnosis as a need for acceptance, support, and understanding. For my son who is mainstreamed in all his classes, who can communicate his basic needs and wants, but, who is isolated due to his rigidity, his scripting and at times, his odd behavior, I preach for acceptance. I beg for a world where neurodiversity is not seen as something bad, but, as something good. I may "romanticize" these differences, but, my view from the spectrum allows me to see my son as not someone who needs cured, but, someone who needs acceptance and understanding.
Two very different views. How something is seen is determined by what is seen.
My view from the spectrum allows me to see how much Ryan struggles to make friends, and as a mother, it feels like pouring salt in an open wound. My view from the spectrum also allows me to see how difficult language is for Ryan and how that impacts his communication which is why most days, Ryan is more comfortable being alone than he is socializing with others, even when those "others" are his family. My view from the spectrum allows me to see when the touch of paper, the sound of an alarm, or an unexpected touch causes extreme discomfort for Ryan and sends his fight or flight response into overdrive pushing others even farther away. My view from the spectrum certainly enables me to see that for my son living with autism, sometimes, being "different" is hard.
Here is the clincher. Just like I see white and gold in #thedress, along with the negatives of an autism diagnosis, I see the positives. I see a boy who has perfect pitch and I have no doubt that autism has allowed him to hear and feel music differently than those of us without autism. My view from the spectrum allows me to see how Ryan interprets the world so much more literally than most of us, and how AWEnestly, his interpretation makes so much more sense than ours. I also see from my view a boy who feels and believes in things so passionately, that I think if most of us felt and believed like Ryan did, the world would be so much easier to understand.
My view from the spectrum also increases my worry that others who have a very different view from the spectrum will cause my son to see his autism as something that should be fixed or cured, which would cause a lot of self doubt and low self-esteem in a young man who is utterly fabulous. Exactly. The. Way. He. Is.
I would never want Ryan to think for even one second that he is in need of "fixing", "curing", or "treating". I want Ryan to understand that yes, autism makes some things more challenging, but, that an Autism Spectrum Disorder alone is not what defines him or what predicts his future. So, yes, if I "romanticize" Ryan's autism diagnosis by pointing out all the positive attributes autism brings into his life and by advocating, "different, not less", and by preaching acceptance and neurodiverstiy all in an attempt to make Ryan feel loved and understood, then yes, I am the next Danielle Steel with a romance novel coming soon to a Barnes and Noble near you. Yet, I understand that those who have a very different view from the spectrum may want to burn my upcoming romance novel right at my feet.
What we see, may be as different as gold/white and blue/black, but, I would like to believe that regardless of our view, regardless of how and what we see, our hope is one in the same. And that is for each one of our children to feel loved, happy, and supported, regardless of how and what we see, because after all, it is their spectrum, and we are just the ones who get to share the view with them.