Just like people of all ages can learn, so is it that autistic people of all ages can learn. It is an utterly sad state of affairs that this even needs to be said, but unfortunately, it needs to be said. Too often I see autistic children being babysat rather than being taught at school. When I ask about academic curriculum being used, I am told, “Oh, he has autism” as if this is an answer to my question.
Please know that the behavior of people with autism makes sense in the context of their experience of the world around them. Because typical people do not share our context they are not often able to assign correct meaning and motivation to some of our behavior. They do their best by assigning meaning to our behavior based on what the behavior would mean were they themselves engaged in it the behavior. Often they arrive at wrong conclusions. Sometimes they even assign negative character traits to us based on their wrong conclusions.
I think in colors. My thinking colors have sound and movement. When I hear spoken words my neurology automatically goes for the match – a match for the words I hear to a familiar concrete picture of something in the world outside my skin or to an internal picture I have stored in my memory..
Lots of people like to eat out. I do, too. Because of my sensory sensitivities, I have learned to reduce certain input to the best of my ability in restaurants so as to better enjoy the experience.
Every first Friday of the month, I am part of a group of seven women who go out to eat. We are all moms of children with autism ranging in age from 13 to 30-something. Most of us have served on autism-related boards together over the years. Each month we choose a new restaurant. No matter where we go, we are the table of people who laugh the most!
The visual sensory aspects of the way autism plays out for me most of the time means that I get too much information delivered – things are too big, too bright, too bold – typically too much to endure all day. Practically, this means I need to accommodate my sensory system in a variety of ways.