We live in a shame culture of stigma, ridicule, all a result of a lack of awareness. What we do not know, we do not try to find out about and still place our judgments on it; even though we do not know. Weird, we call the one who does everything contrary to the way others do. In a culture where unusual is scary, let us promote strange. What we have no knowledge about will remain scary to us. The ones who need help are not supposed to be scary. They are the neurodivergent and the Autistic individuals are one of the many.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a spectrum of behaviours. Before diving in, let's first get to know what ASD really is. ASD is a complex disorder of brain development. It consists of many disorders. Autism is something of the brain, something one is born with, which makes such person autistic. It is a condition and not a gift or a disease to be cured, so once autistic, always autistic. If you have just one autistic behaviour, you are still autistic. Everyone on the spectrum has different symptoms. But it impacts lives everywhere. It happens in 1 in 68 children, is that not very significant. 

The autistic are those who need special assistance. The need for special need is what makes them special. The autistic children are gifts to the world; they are mystery presents born to be unravelled. They may not be good in communicating how they feel but let's make the world a more easy place to be in for such people and this is why they require special needs. 

Different thinking is where progress and invention and discoveries lie
-Temple Grandin

These individuals are usually logical and creative. The Autistic brain is flexible. This is known as neuroplasticity, whereby the cerebellum works differently. They tend to be analytical, logical, detail-oriented and creative. The autistic individuals reason differently and have different abilities. The gifts of Austism are memory, focus, data and visual perception. Familiarity is very important and they quickly get used to routines. These children love consistency and are resistant to any form of change, most especially the female though there are more autistic males.

Signs of being autistic are displayed before the ages 2 or 3. In most cases, the first sign you would see in an autistic child is delayed milestone. This is known as atypical development. They take long to speak, like from 2 to 3 years or longer, may take a long time to sit or do anything which require the strength of bones. Within this duration, there is usually no communication. They may start speaking few similar words before aging one year but lose it. Most of them are non-verbal and make reactive sounds. They usually have something they say and say this all the time. It could be in a song-like pattern. It is a repititive language known as echolalia. When a child does this and goes back to being non-verbal, it is known as regression. Also regarding the autistic child, you could also see some red blotches on the face of the child, which are signs of autism. Seizures is one of the autistic behaviours in a child. It is when one suddenly freezes and then softens again.

The autistic individual may portray a 'lack of social skills', that is, anxiety. But a girl could have a friend or two. The girls have more social skills. There is social exclusion and less shared enjoyment. 'Sensory disorders' can also affect the autistic child. One could have strange sensory reactions. These children do not like any form of contact and hate interference. They only cuddle when they wish to and this is usually a form of self expression. Usually Autistic children may not feel pain the way others do. Their reactions are very different. For sensory impairment, when you tickle, there could be no facial reaction. Their reactions could be entirely different while others may not have sensory issues. There is 'excessive laughing', for no particular reason or crying for no particular reason, even when they wake from sleep. They stim by jumping and sitting repeatedly while laughing, it is most usually an expression of happiness. 

They reciprocate too; this is like mimicking. They are fast learners so they pick up behavior from others. Try doing something fun with them repeatedly, they follow. They do what you do or lead them to do. They develop fixation as kids, like the oral fixation. The autistic child may gag with food while still learning to swallow and there is usually problem with gluten digestion. There are also 'sleep impairments or irregularities'. They seldom deeply sleep. 

Autistic individuals also engage in the act of 'elopement'. They do not like to be confined but have a sense of familiarity. Usually, they walk away, as they have memory of the nook and cranny of the environment. Some children run on tip-toe. They run away, and very quickly. They take huge risks and get flighty and it could result to injury. Despite the danger, most of them are cautious. 

With regards to sight, they do not look people in the face, as they are focused on other things, just the environment (faces are scary to look into, just kidding). So when you stare at them, they care less because they are deeply involved in the world of theirs. Others can actually look you in the eyes and away right after. This is one of the social difficulties. 

They focus on light. This means that they are very sensitive to sight. Light could be fascinating to them but strong for them. Lights are like headlights on a night journey. They love color.  No one takes the hearing aspect important because they do not know what others hear. There is usually no response to name and you get ignored, like you are not even there. They usually seem deaf but are not, especially when they are children. Sometimes they only need to process what they hear. The autistic children are reactive to sounds. They could flap their ears to the point of injury when they hear loud noises. Now, imagine you can hear voices, car horns, electronic noises, you also hear a big vibration in your ear which is the result of all these noises. This is how it feels. So maybe you make the night comfortable for sleep now. And for smell, they do perceive with strong senses, this is why they sometimes always want to be neat. 

The 'self-stimulatory acts' or 'repetitive behaviours' they engage in are 'rocking' (hitting the back on resting surface), 'stimming', which is hand flapping, 'twirling or spinning' (standing or sitting), toe tapping and leg vibrations. All these are known as autistic stims The autistic traits mentioned earlier are most of the stims and they could be in different forms. Rocking is a motor tic and echolalia is a verbal tic. As they grow, they develop other patterns of repetitive behavior.

Meltdown is certain condition whereby the autistic individual shuts down completely. It is a result of sensory overload or burnout. The person cannot tell you what is happening and you cannot understand, so he just keeps quiet and is unable to communicate these feelings. It is a total loss over behavioral control. Meltdowns happen when they feel things they cannot identify and just give up, being unable to speak or hear or answer. The meltdown process is known as the silent scream. And when tics happen and they have to stim. Tics are urges which bring relief. They are unable to control the tics, it could happen in social situations whereby they are unable to mask. It is like depression. This is result of unfriendly environment. Causes or triggers of meltdown are loud noises, bright lights, clothing textures, touch, new environment, amongst others. 

Stimming helps to either increase or decrease stimuli. The autistic stims are lifelines or coping strategies. So avoid masking and just let them do what they do. These behaviours help them feel calm during meltdowns. We should not see the solutions as the problem. You do not ignore them when they engage in autistic behavior. You could also work to reduce it.  Music is more effective for the autistic, most especially the non-verbal. Anxiety makes them engage in their meltdowns. So to avoid anxiety, you could play music, put them to lie down or even let them run or engage in their stims. So do not ignore them. We all have addictions. When you feel anxious, you watch movies, rub your arm, tap your feet repeatedly or freed a muscle. This are the behaviours they exhibit naturally. 

Just think of the earth as multidimensional, where different people have arrived but have one similarity, which is being human. They are only the simplified versions of us. They have come to make the world seem easy for us as we must for them. They are mirrors for you to see how easy they do everything you try to hide. They are real, authentic and they teach us to be. They are not lesser humans or less than human. They are the ones who teach us to be human. 

The best treatment for Autism is kindness. At least it's what we all have in common as human. This makes understanding easier. Kindness equals empathy. It's fairness and justice. We just have to look at it with positivity. It's understanding the point of others and being in their shoes. Empathy makes you see everyone equally, regardless of any hinderance or circumstance. Being human is what makes is equal but people are blinded by the vanities of life. If you see them as lesser humans and do not understand them, I do not understand how that makes you better than them. Intelligent people do not prejudice, racially or neurologically. If you are aware, you will not classify humans into divisions. There is no one way to being human. They still have rights because they are human. They do not communicate does not mean they tolerate everything. They communicate but nonverbally.
When you see your kind, you recognize your kind. Autistic individuals freely associate with other autistic individuals because this is where they can be confident, this is where they become aware of their strengths. 

There are different versions of truth. There is no right or wrong. Just as we have our realities and definitions of normal, what is normal to a neurodivergent is different to a neutotypical but does not make the former special. It only makes them human and Autism is what makes the autistic unique but as a neurotypical, what makes you unique? You may be good at something which the other finds difficult. This is why you do not judge by actions. Nobody is normal. If nobody is normal, then nobody will be deficient. Autism is about love, hope and acceptance.

The autistic individual feels the aura of those around them and the stims are self expressions and communication. They are not unempathetic. If you have enough empathy, you will treat everyone with respect. If you have God, if you believe in God, you'd believe in his wonders. Hope is and it's everywhere. But faith without works is dead. It is not all the unusual happenings that you need to seek the face of God for help against such. Sometimes you need a diagosis. Early intervention saves money so it could be easy for everyone when they grow. Time is the overall essence. It saves worries and it's for positive outcomes. It can make a huge difference. Diagnosis is essential for support. If you do not know what is wrong with your child, you may not be supported because no one knows what is wrong. 

Engage them in therapy to build inner strength. When they do, these behaviors do not stay long but reduce but it does not stop them from still being autistic. It all begins with education. Do not judge but educate. The solution to ignorance is knowledge. We educate ourselves by having conversations, searching the internet, watching videos and reading books and literature written by neurodivergent authors to know what autism really is. There are usually positive outcomes.

So these things are not just symptoms. They are solutions. Do not see the symptoms. See the reality. Let's create good environment for them because. Their best is most noticeable in calm environments. They get better by care and having happy people around them. If you notice, they reduce autistic behavior. In fact, sometimes it does not take therapy but care and comfortability. They need to trust those around them and need to know that they believe in them. The behaviour of the autistic individual may not match the intention. This is very important to know. These children do not understand your expectations of them and they are not disobedient.

They aren't their behaviors but rather individuals to be supported. They are the ones who teach us to love. When you live, without having a reason to live the way you do, now that's it. That's the definition of being one with the universe; being indivisible. You should also have a why to live so you have a why to die too. It's called purpose. Autism is a superpower. Autism makes who you are but does not define you as an individual. Do not see the autistic at his worst and use it to define him. Apart from being human, the biggest strength of an autistic person is being autistic. With hope, we could make the world a better place. 

Make them feel like they have something valuable to offer. There are many abandoned Autistic persons and I'm very sure many of them could be found at neuropsychiatric hospitals, both home and abroad. Autism is not a mental disorder but a neurodevelopmental disorder. The country's assessment on mental health is excessively low. Their views on neurodivergence is on looks, as everyone judges by appearance. Autism is not shown on the face. Many could pass as neurotypical. Appearance does not matter when it comes to neurodivergence. Nothing does. Sometimes you have to look at Autism with your heart because your eyes might miss something. The question now is, if they are autistic then we are what? Normal? And if you're normal, the other is what? Deficient? This is false.

Definitely you do not have the same brain as me. We have the may have equal brain structure, that is, anatomy. This makes us neurotypical but take note, your psychology, that is, the cognitive and behavioral processes are different from mine. Twins' faces are not same. No two humans have equal brain functioning. Neuro meaning for the lame man is the brain. So neurodiversity simply means difference in the brain. So how much difference is between the neurotypical and the neurodivergent?
No one is normal. Everyone is unique. It's the little things in all of us that makes us who we are. God loves us so much that he made us all unique but we block our radiance and do not recognize our uniqueness as individuals. We also have our exclusive flaws. Neurodivergence is thinking differently. According to Maria Atencio, being special is the ability to think differently. So aren't we all special?

Know everyone is different and everyone on the spectrum is different because they always have a different story. Of course it is a 'spectrum' of behavior. There is no definition, same way normal has no definite meaning. One could be non-speaking and have both cognitive and affective empathy. One could be speaking and have the cognitive empathy. Do not generalize before you get to know an autistic person better. When you meet one autistic person, you meet one. When you meet one, you cannot meet another like that. This is why they are unique. For an autistic individual, there should be a defined or definite behavior. The autistic savants are those who are dedicated to a skill in one area. There could be Savants with no filter, Asperger's with the special ability. Each trait could be from few or many but not all and it's definitely not an all-in-one thing. 

I know of a man I once worked with, an autistic whose difficulties were very difficult to notice. Until I found out about Autism, I did not know he was and neither did he. He was extremely dedicated to what he did, level-headed, with beautifully equal relationship with all. I think his was Asperger's because he was very intelligent in his work and dedicated. Famous people who were diagnosed with Autism: are Albert Einstein, Fewa Otedola, Benji Gans, Lewis Caroll, Emily Dickinson, Bill Gates, Thomas Jefferson, Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, W. B. Yeats, Charles Darwin, Steve Jobs, Stephen Wiltshire, James Joyce, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, etcetera etcetera. 
Neurodivergence is broader than Autism. The neurological variations include Autism, Asperger's which is milder than Austism, Adhd which people with Autism could have, Tourette's syndrome, Dyslexia, Anxiety and so on.

Neurodivergent is having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of normal.
 - Nick Walker.

Remember, you are not the only one of your kind. If you are neurodivergent, you are living in a world that was not created for you. You are like a square peg in a round hole. But it was created for human beings and not the aliens, which is why you are here. So you belong. Autism is an area in neurodivergence. No matter how disrespectful the autistic child may be, they are still innocent. Remember, we are all here for each other. The Autistic are the kindest with no intent of offending. Autism is a condition of innocence, idealism, goodwill and readiness to put others needs above theirs. 

No wonder nurture could be better than nature. A baby that has not tasted other soup variants think that that which his mother cooks is the best. Autism and empathy are all about perspective. We say they don't want to play when we don't play with them. It's part of the culture where we have expectations. What we see as normal is the societal standard. This is why minds get corrupted and people get mindless because their minds have been fixed by those in leadership positions. How are you more intelligent when you stoop low to society's expectations and not see what you are meant to see. I love how sarcastic the autistic individual could be sometimes. You could see only the disability and be blind to the intelligent, empathic, bravery, charisma, strength, kindness, and heartening ability which the autistic individuals bring into the world. Be positive.

Autistic people just want you to believe in them and if you don't, how will they trust you, how will you see these qualities? How will they show you the otherworldly beauty, at least if you cannot go to space to see other planets, you have beautiful diversity on earth, you have people to teach and learn from. I don't know flawless people. I know of people who are still worth loving despite their flaws. They are authentic. They have wishes and dreams. They dream without fear and in love, they know no limits. Autism is a condition but the autistic is not conditioned. While some people are content with fixed mindsets, some wish to fly away into their fantasies, into a world of theirs; some take the risk to do their heart wishes, some wish there was some other place apart from here. Autism is an adventure. But the earth was not created for such people because it's such a tiny place. We should be the responsible ones and have to make it a better place. Happy World Autism Day!


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