This is my part in RJ’s April Blog Tour for Autism Awareness
And it has a give-away!
Autism is everywhere these days, so most people know someone who have been given that diagnosis.
My two best friends both have a daughter diagnosed with autism. Both girls go to an ordinary school because one is of normal intelligence and the other is highly intelligent, so both manage to cope. Their intelligence is only part of the solution, though. In Belgium there is a system in schools where children with autism get special attention and this helps to keep them in mainstream schools. A few hours a week an extra teacher takes them out of class and works on social skills and interaction with other teachers and class mates. Of course, this isn’t nearly enough.
A child with autism also needs extra attention from parents. Forget simple homework supervision. Mainstream schools aren’t geared toward autistic children, even for children who otherwise function pretty well, which means they don’t offer the framework and straightforward rules an autistic child needs. Teaching a child three ways of dividing a complex number may be considered enrichment, but it spells chaos for an autistic child, unless they also give them straightforward rules when to apply what method. Or they specifically ask a child to use a certain method to solve a problem. Which leaves the parents to create extra structure for homework.
I applaud both sets of parents for guiding their daughters to fourth and sixth grade respectively.
For me personally, interacting with these girls was a steep learning curve as well. I don’t have children of my own, so I had a double problem (and it was entirely MINE, trust me 😉 ) Don’t get me wrong, they are both great girls, but you have to make certain allowances when you spend time with them. Putting irony or sarcasm into your speech is out of the question. You soon realize from their reaction that this form of humor is totally lost on them. They also take you literally. If you tell them you’ll help them later with their homework, you better be ready to do so, because they’ll bug you about it until you do!
There’s an upside to it as well. Both girls are easy to trust, because you can give them rules and they’ll stick to them. Religiously. I can already see that at age 16 or 18 one of their mothers is going to have to explain that it’s okay to go to second base with their boyfriend. I hope she doesn’t forget, because if she does, she’s going to have a hard time explaining this to the boyfriend!
In short, I’ve found interacting with both young ladies an enrichment. It’s made me look at how I interact with people and has made me very straightforward. It has also shown me how many times we brush someone off, saying we’ll do something later and then don’t. Or how easily we say things in jest, expecting others to get that we don’t really mean what we say.
On a more general level, I see that a lot of people get marked as autistic when this wouldn’t have been the case ten years ago. For some it’s a stigma, for others it’s a means to an end, because they’re more likely to get the help, or the credit, they need.
I work in Computer Software and there are no better software testers than autistic people, because they are meticulous, persistent and have no problem doing the same things over and over again in exactly the same way.
All in all, I think we need to respect all people, and understand that some of them will react differently from the norm. And that this doesn’t automatically make them worse, or better, than people who are considered part of that norm.
Now for the give-away…
I’m giving away one copy of my first audiobook Clouds and Rain to one lucky commenter.
Tell me a little about what you know about autism, what your own prejudices are concerning autism and what you’ve done to combat them and you may get your hands on the audiobook of this bestselling novel!
(you have more than a week to enter. Winner will be announced April 10th) Giveaway is reopened and lasts until the end of the month!
If you can’t wait that long, there’s a discount on everything at Dreamspinner Press on March 31st and April 1st for Easter!
And please check out the other posts in the blog hop!