See the person not the autism

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Since it’s Autism awareness day I would like to honour all the people with autism, especially my own family members by talking about my own experience  as a parent of an autistic child, in particular the frustrations felt from uninformed bystanders.
My daughter is a selective mute which means that in some social situations she becomes so frightened that she is unable to speak. I am constantly asked why she doesn’t talk and having explained, well meaning people have then either tried to badger her in to speaking, talked to her like she’s simple or completely ignored her. Non of which is either helpful nor necessary. Autistic people may view the world differently but they can and do understand. In their own way they are communicating. Please look for the small signs, the tiny smile, the whispered word, the picture they drew because they didn’t have the words.
All they need is the willingness to see beyond the tantrums and the socially unacceptable behaviour to the heart that’s saying love me!
So the next time you see a child that appears to be extremely shy, or loud, or over boisterous, or that’s throwing the biggest tantrum you’ve ever seen, don’t tut and think it’s bad parents. Smile, say hello. Don’t expect a reply and if you’re really lucky you might get one.
Every new positive social in counter is a victory for an autistic person and they’re family, so please on this very important day be part of someone’s victorious journey. Your one smile will make a difference.

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