I still remember the first week at my job at a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Clinic, and my mentor suggested that I try my hand at working in the Early Intervention Program for young children with Autism. And all that rang through my ears was “AUTISM”! I was petrified, how do I say NO. Throughout my education I had a single paper on Autism and it just left me baffled. What is Autism? How do you work with them? 10 years hence I can say, thanks to the brilliant mentors I have had, and the amazing people I have worked with, I definitely know lot more and I love my work. But can anyone, or I truly decode the Spectrum that is Autism.
They say you can’t connect, but I see you cry when your mother leaves.
They say you have no emotions, but I hear you laugh when I spin you around.
They say you can’t communicate, but I feel your touch me for more bubbles.
They say you can’t think, but I see you organize and match your toys.
They say you can’t concentrate, but I watch you for hours with your clay.
They say you flap your hands, but I see calm yourself down when you don’t understand.
They say you hit and bite, but I know you are asking for help.
They say you are lost, but like me you are finding a place to belong.
They say you are rigid in you ways, but you are trying to make this unpredictable world of ours predictable.
They say you can’t make friends, but you return to me day after day.
Everyday you trust me and everyday I invest in you
Because I am supposed to teach you and train too,
Make sense of your world and help you keep pace.
But it is you who taught me how to embrace
The simple pleasures of life
The first eye contact, the first smile, the first hi.
Tickles and peek-a-boo, kisses and high fives.
Jumping on the trampoline, running bare feet on wet grass
Singing and dancing till you collapse
Collaring and painting with your feet and hands.
Saying no to things we just cant stand
You are unique, so innocent and true
Nothing you can hide through you smiles and cries.
I hope you know that I am not trying to change you
Just help you be you,
In a way so that we can join you.
Footnote: Soumini is a developmental psychologist working in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders. She specializes in early intervention for young children and social language communication therapy for older children. Recently she has started working as a Parent Coach to help parents through their personal journeys when bringing up a child with Autism.