By Lisa Ackerman
Many who are not affected by autism are curious about it. They should be, a once rare condition now affecting 1 in every 88 children (1.)
Over the years, I have been asked many interesting questions: What is autism? Why is autism on the rise? Can my kid catch it?
The hardest question: What special gift does your child with autism have?
I know that each child with autism has incredible gifts, but is overcoming a devastating and challenging diagnosis a special gift or talent?
Maybe some ask in reference to the movie Rain Man and the character’s ability to count cards in Las Vegas? Or the adult with autism able to briefly view a skyline and draw from memory? Or who could forget J Mac (Jason McElwain) and his incredible high school basketball game with six – three pointers in the final minutes.
It may be easier for people not affected by autism to just talk about these special gifts. I, on the contrary, see most of these children very affected by their label, usually with a myriad of health issues (as confirmed in a new study reference 2.)
We know that each child living with autism can be very different. I am sure you’ve heard the expression “every child is different like every snowflake”. This is so true for every child diagnosed with autism. The percentage of kids with “special gifts” is probably the same percentage as in neuro-typical kids with special gifts. But then again, I haven’t seen a study on that (and please do not suggest one– we have other priorities to tackle, such as why are so many kids with an autism diagnosis sick?)
Before you ask “what trick can your kid with autism do?”, why not ask “what can I do to help your family living with autism?” (Please see reference 3.) I believe that is a much better way to start a conversation and learn more about this subject.
For families living with autism, use this blog to introduce yourself and to let other family and friends know how they can help you!