My younger brother, Joshua (14), and my little sister, Elizabeth (2), both have forms of autism.
Joshua has Asperger’s Syndrome. On the spectrum, he has what’s considered “high functioning” autism, which means that some of what he does is like the average person, but several of his personality traits are different and enhanced.
Elizabeth has a stronger form of autism. Her behavior, mental processes, functionality, emotions – all of these things are affected by the way her brain works.
I have met different people who have said something about my siblings’ autism that has really rubbed me the wrong way.
While talking about Joshua’s high functioning autism, the only way these people knew how to respond was by saying, “But he [Joshua] is so smart.”
Autism, just like many other disorders, is tainted by common misconceptions.
By pointing out how smart Joshua is (which he is, by the way), that’s saying that he can’t have Asperger’s since he is intelligent.
Autism, in its many shapes and forms, affects how individuals learn things and see the world. It does not mean that they’re naïve, dumb, stupid, or any other unkind word that’s often silently associated with disorders.
By denoting that autism is “not normal,” we’re saying that we’re right and they’re wrong.
The truth is, the average person tends to be balanced in their abilities – their strengths and weaknesses. In contrast, the autistic person experiences much less balance in their life. Their responses to things can be unpredictable and often intense. As well as this, they excel in areas of thinking and performing that the average person couldn’t ever dream of achieving.
Isn’t that a beautiful thing?
There are people in this world who are wired differently than the masses.
These are the people who have found ways of inventing things and fixing problems that we never would have thought possible of accomplishing!
Elizabeth is the most unique, quirky toddler I’ve ever met. Her transition into toddlerhood was a rocky one, to be sure, but she has so many bright and fun moments, it more than makes up for the hardships she faces. Our family adores watching her, and we’re all excited with each and every bit of progress she makes. She’s making large strides in her understanding of language and communication, as well as how the world works. This sweet little girl is in my prayers often, because I want her to grow up in a family who’s willing to learn about how her brain processes things so that we can effectively teach and help her.
When I think of autism now, I no longer stereotype it. I can see that their are huge differences in every autistic individual, and I certainly don’t see it as a handicap anymore.
Every autistic person deserves to be treated with love, kindness, and understanding – just like every person on this planet does.
For this post, Joshua has graciously agreed to answer nine questions I’ve asked him on this topic. I’m very happy to provide an inside look on how a high-functioning autistic person sees autism. Thanks again, Joshua!
My Interview With Joshua On Autism
1. Do you see Asperger’s syndrome as a disorder? Why or why not?
I don’t see it as a disorder. It just shows I’m unique in certain ways.
2. What are the pros of Asperger’s for you?
If I’m interested in something, I’m really good at it. I can take a lot of stimulation.
3. What are the cons?
I forget things easily – like names, [and] if someone asks me to do something, I’m not actually focused on what they’re saying. If I don’t like something, I really don’t like it.
4. Mom mentioned that when you were younger, you stuck to a strict routine (with food and daily habits), but now you are much more adventurous. Why do you think you’ve made that change?
I’m able to enjoy life more by being dangerous and exploring things – for example, getting about six feet of air off a bike ramp. Being a daredevil’s a lot of fun.
5. Our family knows how optimistic you are. How are you able to keep such a positive outlook on life?
Because being negative doesn’t bring me up at all, so I’ve just stuck to a positive aspect …. All in all, just being positive, it gets rid of negativity. If you’re negative, it isn’t gonna help you. If you’re positive, it will help you.
6. What do you want others to know about autism?
- Don’t judge someone because of them being autistic. Some people can have slight stages [forms] of autism, and others have stronger ones.
- Don’t stare.
- Don’t be afraid to ask [an autistic child’s] guardian about their child so you can learn more about autism.
7. How do you want other people to look at Elizabeth?
Just respect her and don’t make fun of her.
8. Thank you for letting me interview you. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
My autism is actually very helpful, and not much negative, which is nice. Autism is just the way somebody looks at life – it’s not crippling, it’s not a disease … it can affect some people more than others.
In conclusion, I am very passionate about protecting my sweet siblings. I’d love to educate people and allow them to learn more about autism specifically, because these special kinds of people don’t deserve the wrong, awful stereotypes that are associated with them.
If you met Joshua, you’d see a boy who’s passionate and talkative about what he’s interested in. You’d see a guy who cares about people way more than the average boy his age. You wouldn’t see Asperger’s syndrome unless you knew he had it before you met him.
If you met Elizabeth, you’d see a toddler who’s insanely curious about the world around her. You’d see a child who lights up when she’s able to communicate what she’s feeling and needing, and you’d see a girl who adores animals and being creative. You wouldn’t see autism unless you were aware of her having it.
Just like all of us, people with autism have good days and bad days. Learning to help my little brother and sister through both kinds of days is causing me to grow as a person, in ways I never would have imagined possible. I am beyond grateful for the Lord’s hand in all of this … I know He has beautiful plans for all of us.