Autism is...

14 March 2016

Dear friend,

My 9 year old son had to give a presentation at school and he chose the topic; Autism. When we started our research for the topic the reaction we both had to the available materials was quite surprising and shocking.  My son was very upset by one particular video we watched and stated,
I hate autism...

Whilst I understand that the information has to be 'real' and 'honest' I feel that for an autistic person reading a lot of negative information can be scary, depressing even and that we are focusing too much on the extremes of autism and not looking at the wider spectrum.

How could we turn this around?  We have attempted to write our own 'real' and 'honest' yet hopeful version of what autism means to us. We hope you enjoy it!

Slide 2: We will begin with a Quiz: Please look at the 5 questions and give an answer of true of false. Save your answers as we will return to these at the end.
Slide 6: Select the green link for a video: Autism and the senses. 
Slide 7: Select the triangle to watch the video. (I added Dutch subtitles for the class)

The morning of the presentation, I don't know who was more nervous. I was really frightened that he might be overwhelmed or get upset and he woke up with a sore throat and needed some of mummy's magic medicine to get him going. But... I am very pleased to say that he did it and he reported with a huge smile on his face that everyone clapped and chanted his name when he had finished. He also got an 8.5/10 from his teacher. One Proud boy and one very proud Mummy!
My big lad getting in some practice before bedtime.

I am filled with pride but not at the 8.5/10, don't get me wrong that is amazing! But that this boy who last year had counselling to help him come to terms with his Autism. Who one year ago hated being autistic and thought he was stupid. That this boy who cried everytime we used the word autism. Who didn't want to be autistic. Who only saw the negative. Has come so far that he can stand up in a room full of his peers and say, I have autism, this is me and this is how you can help. 
I am overwhelmed at the progress he has made and I am typing this with tears of happiness and pride. Thank you to the therapists who helped him see himself for who he really is; a clever, funny, amazing boy. Thank you to his 1-1 assistant for being totally amazing and believing in him always. Thank you to his calm, caring teacher who has tried so hard to understand him this year. Thank you to his amazing head teacher who gave his time without question and took my boy under his wing, making him feel safe and understood. Thank you to everyone who has read, commented and supported us in giving him the loving pushes he needed to make it this far. There is a lot of work that goes into making it, no miracle cure but we are making it one step at a time. 
Having Autism doesn't have to limit your life. Let's challenge those stereotypes! 

If you would like to reproduce the slides or use the presentation in English or Dutch please contact me. 

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