6 plus 3 equals 9

So does 8 plus 1, and 7 plus 2, and 5 plus 4.

There are many different ways to get 9.

My point?

In life there are many different ways to do things. Often we have a set idea of how to achieve something but others have their own ideas. That does not make your idea wrong and it does not make the idea of others wrong.

Similarly, you have your own opinions on things, and others have theirs. That does not make your opinion wrong, or the opinion of others.

In life there is a lot of diversity.

There is also diversity in abilities and in the way our brains work. You may have heard the terms neurotypical and neurodiversity being used. In a world where an increasing number of people are being diagnosed with autism those terms are becoming more common. Neurotypical is used to describe people whose brains are considered to work in a ‘normal’ way. That would be the majority of people. But it is becoming increasingly clear there are different ways for people’s brains to work and this is what the term neurodiversity refers to.

There are not really that many more people with autism than in previous generations. There are just more being diagnosed. Early autism research was first published in the 1940s. This research studied groups of people who had been well known for generations. There were two research papers. One by Leo Kanner in America was research on people who were non verbal and had limited functioning. The other research paper was by Hans Asperger and was published in Austria during World War II. This paper was in German and was only known in the rest of the world in the 1980s. Asperger studied those people who functioned in society very well but had different ways of thinking and behaving. These are the people described as having Aspergers. Nowadays they would be referred to as people with Autism but who have a high level of functioning.

Because of the difficulty with communication of those who were non verbal, and the difficulty coping with academic assessments based on neurotypical people, many people with Autism were diagnosed as learning impaired and considered to be less intelligent than others. What is now known is that many on the Autism Spectrum are actually more intelligent than others and with support can achieve academically.

Children with Autism require support to help them achieve in a neurotypical world. There are those who argue that those children are a drain on the economy because of the amount of money it is perceived is spent on them, but it is important to remember that many other children need support as well. And they receive it. It is increasingly difficult for children to manage in this world. As a society we should be alert to the needs of all children and seek to meet them.

We should always remember that there is more than one way to get 9 as an answer and there is more than one way for a person to be a contributing member of society.

I have a lot of experience with autism and last year conducted research into the experience of parents whose adult children were diagnosed with autism in adulthood. I have a personal interest in this, my own daughter was diagnosed at age 25 with autism. So I have experienced some of the ups and downs described by other parents. I have found that I work with a lot of parents who have a child with autism. One thing my research participants and the other parents I see all say is that other people “don’t get it”. For this reason I am diversifying my practice to include support for parents in that situation because there is a great need for that level of support.

I will be writing blogs on the subject of autism in the coming months.

In the meantime, if you are a parent of a child, or other person you are close to, with autism and you want support, please ring me to make an appointment on 0409396608.

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