Day 22. The journey continues ….
Have you ever heard the saying, “If you know one person with Autism, you know one person with Autism”? It is very appropriate! I have interacted with and worked with hundreds of kids on the Autistic spectrum and no two of them look alike. Each child has a completely unique profile of needs and of course, their own unique personalities.
I believe in the neuroplasticity of the brain. I believe that we can retrain the brain and encourage other pathways. When James was a small child he had to be explicitly taught many things – hugging was one of them. It didn’t come naturally to him but he learnt through repetitious and gentle modelling. And now I believe he enjoys a hug almost as much as the person who’s receiving the hug from him. It’s not that he lacks affection, he just needed to be taught the process.
Not all people with Autism present like “Rain Man” or Dr House or even Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory (and don’t we all love him!) Each person on the spectrum is unique. Some children prefer their own company. These are the kids who sit by themselves at lunchtime and absorb themselves in a fantastic novel. Some children really enjoy social interactions but may just be a bit unsure how to negotiate the process. Some children might struggle to show emotion but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel emotion – they just haven’t learnt how to express it appropriately.
Have you ever heard that children with Autism lack empathy? I actually think that some children with ASD are super empathetic – they feel things very strongly – sadness in others, anger in others etc. Some children need to be taught empathy. James hates it when other people cry, especially little children. If his younger cousins hurt themselves, he will pick them up, cuddle them and deposit them to the nearest adult for help.
I’ve attached a video again today. This video is of James and Thomas waking up their cousin, Cormac from a sleep. In Tom’s Kindy year, my youngest sister Joanna (whom the boys call JoJo) looked after Tom one day a week. Tom adored this time with JoJo and Cormac. This video shows James’ ability to care for a younger child – to show affection and empathy, and it shows Tom’s ability to be the comedy relief when some distraction was required. I love this video! Thanks JoJo for allowing me to share it xxx