For World Autism Awareness Week, I wanted to share some photos of The Boy, celebrating what it is to be different. I wanted to highlight his quirks and nuances and be proud of all the things that make him different.
It seems being different is celebrated in a way to help children that don’t quite fit in feel better about themselves. But should we really be celebrating difference?
I’m a persistent over-sharer, not because I get to hear people congratulate me on being brave for being different, but because I seek solace from those that say they feel exactly the same way. How many of you have felt relief after reading something that you could relate to on many levels? How many of us belong to groups and join forums just to be among like-minded people? Is that a bad thing? It’s human nature to want to belong, to fit in, to be accepted and to feel comfortable around those that are similar. It is what helped the human species survive in the first place after all.
My olive skin is a completely different shade to my daughter’s pale creamy tones. But we share the same DNA. My son learns and understands the world differently to me. But we share the same DNA. I have friends of all different faiths, backgrounds, colour and ability. But as humans, we are all variations of the same DNA.
Perhaps it’s not revering people’s differences that should be encouraged, but understanding and accepting that, actually, we’re not all that different. There’s probably more that unites us all in our similarities than there ever will be to divide us in our differences.
As the research rumbles on into understanding autism, I hope that one day, autism will be viewed in much the same way as a personality trait or characteristic; something that is taken for granted rather than feared. I don’t want to cure my son’s autism anymore than cure his shaggy, light brown hair or round, green eyes. It’s part of him. Of his DNA. So, instead of celebrating my son for being special or different, I’m going to commend him just for being him; undeniably brilliant.
Photo credits to my dear friend, Maria.