Autism Month: To those with Autism, Thank You!

by | Apr 30, 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Dear Community,

It’s the last day of Autism Awareness Month. 

It’s been great to share some of the myths about autism. 

  • Myth #1: Socially motivated kids can’t have autism. 
  • Myth #2: That kid is too smart to have autism
  • Myth #3: My doctor ruled autism out
  • Myth #4: Kids with autism don’t want friends
  • Myth #5: Most people with autism have special skills or  ‘splinter skills’

NOPE! 

The myth rebuttals are below. If you want to read about it, scroll back through our posts, and we will tell you all about it. Here’s a summary…

  • Myths #1 & 4 Rebuttal: Social motivation is not the same thing as social reciprocity. That means, the desire to have friends is not the same as the skills it takes to make friends. Many kids with autism are socially motivated. 
  • Myth #2 Rebuttal: Lots of people with autism are smart! Some of the smartest people I have ever met are on the Autism Spectrum. 
  • Myth #3 Rebuttal: Most doctors do not diagnose or rule out autism. Some pediatricians and general practice doctors can, but this is not the norm at all. 
  • Myth #5 Rebuttal: Many people with autism have stuff that they are good at, just like the rest of us. And by the way, don’t get a splinter! It hurts!

As this month winds to a close, I would like to share some of the amazing things that I have learned from people with autism over the years. These aren’t necessarily “facts” but are some of the treasures of my life. 

  • Sometimes it’s okay to not just “let it go.” We are so big on taking things in stride in this culture, but sometimes it’s fine to hold onto something that matters. 
  • Showing your work is annoying. Kids with autism often greatly dislike “showing their work” in math. They say, if I know, I just know. Well, that is true. 
  • Facts are stubborn things. People with autism often might ascribe to the dictum of, “just the facts ma’am.” And they are right. Facts make sense. Facts are reliable. Facts are good.
  • It’s more important to be trustworthy than savvy. Of course each individual is unique, but I notice this one thing a lot. People with ASD tend to be honest, reliable, and trustworthy. Maybe gullible at times, maybe not super savvy, but true blue. Given the alternatives, I’ll take trustworthy any day.
  • Lighten up! Fantasize! Day Dream!  Although sometimes kids with autism can be on the serious side, wow can they take you into a fantasy world! I learned more about My Little Pony, Pokemon, and Star Wars while playing with my clients with ASD than I can even tell you. During my clinical work, I never played harder than I did with kiddos on the Spectrum.  They could “seriously play.”
  • A big heart means more than anything else. When I think of the many years I have had the distinct privilege of working with people on the spectrum, I feel heart pangs of warmth and joy. There is a hint of fragility in this population, and wrapped around that, is this amazingly warm heart. 

To those on the Spectrum, thank you. I will never forget the laughs, the quirky and goofy moments, the funny ways that you have taught me to see this crazy world. I appreciate the window into life you have given me and the reminder of the importance of sincerity, determination and “getting real.” It is truly a pleasure to know you. 

Sincere thanks!

Dr. Marcy Willard

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