'If You've Met One Person With Autism, You've Met One Person With Autism'
Well, here it is again, my favourite time of year, a time to celebrate the most amazing individuals in my life. As World Autism Awareness Day comes to the fore, it is a great excuse to celebrate the joy of so many people I know, who have brought nothing but joy and inspiration.
I am an SNA and a tutor, two jobs that I love and am blessed to be involved in, I have encountered children through my career who are now adults that have brought so much into my life, some of which have become lifetime friends and that is what life is all about.
When I teach students on the Special Needs Assisting courses at Portobello, I hope that I can truly portray the joy I get when I am working with children with autism.
The individuality of each child is fascinating and along with the general traits such as the triad of impairments, (Social Interaction, Social Communication, and Rigidity of Thinking and Difficulties with Social Imagination), each child is a wonderful individual, and as stated by Dr Stephen Shore "If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism.”
When I work with children, and I get to meet the wonderful families, I see how hard their lives can be, they are a special kind of person and in some respects were chosen to have these special children, on the hard days, some really hard days, it is not pity that I look at them with, but pure admiration. They work tirelessly for their children to receive the services they so rightly deserve.
It is hard enough to cope with everyday life without the added pressure of neglected services on top of what hardships the pandemic has brought.
There are many remarkable people that we know through either their genius or skill, some of which we do not realise are on the autism spectrum and you may be surprised to know had autism, people such as, Albert Einstein, Amadeus Mozart, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce and in last decade Andy Warhol and Bill Gates to name but a few.
According to Hans Asperger – who discovered ‘Asperger's Syndrome’ a form of autism - "A sort of intelligence hardly touched by tradition and culture – unconventional, unorthodox, strangely 'pure' and original, akin to the intelligence of true creativity." (Fitzgerald 2004 P. 5).
As I am the forever optimist I know the world we live in will be a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential, but only by increasing our understanding and acceptance.
I do wonder at the era we are living in now, and celebrate the power of knowledge, and the power to embrace differences. To love who we are and what we are made up of, to celebrate uniqueness to its fullest.
To all the children I know especially my beautiful nephew, be proud of who you are, you bring joy, you bring happiness to everyone that has been lucky to see inside you.
By Fran Trehy, SNA Lecturer at Portobello Institute.