The following story about Ross exemplifies the potential strengths of children who have been labeled as being within the spectrum and also the potential danger of labeling and classifying individuals.
I proudly identify many of my good friends as “nerds,” a classification that I have often wished to be able to share, regardless of the fact that if they were children today they would have been labeled as being with the Autism Spectrum. I, however, have had to settle for the strengths that I have relative to more plebian labels such as Dyslexic or Learning Disabled. I haven’t been able to reach the heights of many of the “nerds” because my sensory functions are nothing extraordinary nor am I blessed with exceptional visualization skills, as are so many of the individuals labeled as being on the “spectrum.” So I have had to take advantage of some of my strengths, such as those that permit me to view issues with a gestalt and creative perspective.
I have often professed that our strength as a species lies in our uniqueness as individuals–differences that need to be identified, acknowledged, sometimes controlled or treated, but also developed and often celebrated. For those within the “spectrum,” most of the world does not realize that often the debilitating sensory addictions and excessive visualization issues that can produce such devastating development issues, when brought under control, can and are, in fact, gifts and strengths.
It is a tragedy that so many unique and exceptional individuals are labeled and never really given an opportunity. Yet if they are perceived as truly unique individuals with challenges and gifts, not labels, and given the opportunity to bring their exceptionalities under control and to learn to use their strengths and gifts, they can in fact be incredible contributors to our planet and live happy, successful, productive lives.
Vive la difference!
As an Evaluator with NACD, there are certain days that just stand out as being excellent. Today was one of those for me. NACD has been working with the Williams family for about 10 years now. As Ross was originally diagnosed in the Autistic Spectrum, consistency on program has paid off for this hard-working and diligent family. One step at a time and over several years, he continues to step away from the limitations of his diagnosis and leave symptom by symptom behind. Today Ross is a focused, determined, well-rounded teenager. He enjoys basketball, makes good grades in regular classes at a high-performing school in Houston, Texas and has wonderful social skills.
About 18 months ago, he showed an interest in playing the piano and his parents started him in lessons. At his recent evaluation he brought his portable keyboard to show his evaluator what he has been working on. We share this with you now as an encouragement to never give up in helping your children to achieve their full potential as they explore life, seeking their passions and enriching their future.