POSTED AT 02:14 PM
Autism is a difficult subject for some to talk about. It can be the elephant in the room that people want to avoid, whether they are not very educated on the subject or want to avoid hurting someone's feelings. We started the year off reading Anything but Typical because at Mountview we are a diverse community. We are not the most diverse community when it comes to race, but we are a diverse community when it comes to learning. We all learn in different ways. There are some who are visual learners - you prefer to be shown in pictures or words how to do something. There are some who are auditory learners - you learn best when you are told the information. Some of you are kinesthetic learners which means you need to get up and do it - hands on. There are many more different types of learning styles, but we all find ways to succeed. We find it difficult to grasp a concept when the information is not presented the way we know best. Now image that no matter how that information was presented; it looked, sounded, or just seemed strange. Imagine looking at something and thinking that you got it, only to have everyone else come up with a different answer, and no matter how hard you tried to get it; it escaped you.
Autism is often confused with mental illness. That is so wrong. It is not an illness. It is simply a different way of looking at the world and processing information. It is different from how most people process information regardless of learning style. There are degrees of that exist on a spectrum. Image a half of a pie, cut into small slices, and as you move from right to left around the pie, with each piece you move along the spectrum and the severity of the disorder increases. There are some people who have autism, and you would never even now it by looking at them, and sometimes would never know it. This is surprising to many because I think when many people think of autism, they think of mental handicaps including Down Syndrome. They are not related. There are signs of autism that can be seen. In our book, Jason does many things that make him stand out. He makes faces, flaps his hands, pulls his hair, and rocks himself in rhythm. He requires structure, dislikes loud noises, surprises or changes in routine, chaos, and certain textures. But one thing we did learn is that Jason is extremely bright.
There are so many misconceptions about autism that I hope we can get past. The more we educate ourselves to the truth, the more we accept people's differences, the tighter of a community we will be. The more we accept the diversity that our school and town offer us the more we open up ourselves to new and great friendships and a brighter and more tolerant future.