FOREWORD: People who champion noble causes are people who should be admired. Celebrities. Moguls. And people like my friend, Godfrey Orji. For as long as I’ve known him, Godfrey has been a spokesperson for the autism, using what he has – in this case, writing – to educate the world on the plight and difference of the autistic child. He has penned a piece on MyMindSnaps once before on Autism Awareness Day, a story titled ‘Before You Call Her Stupid’ (Read HERE).
And now, he has embarked on a project called The Autism Support Circle Initiative. The aim of the project is to create awareness for autism, better care structures and to achieve social acceptance for autistic persons in Nigeria. In his words:
‘I decided to make it a support circle because I figured that what persons on the spectrum need is care, love and a listening ear to their uniqueness. So, to kick off one of our awareness campaigns – #DifferentTypesOfSame – I and two other writers have decided to share some stories with the lovely followers of MyMindSnaps. Three Voices, Three Stories, One Message – Social Acceptance.’
As part of the support for this initiative, if you’re on twitter, kindly follow @theautism_sci
Read below the first story and share your thoughts with us.
The Gift Of Difference
So I had a discussion with a friend once and I told her how I felt shock therapy could help autistic persons. In my words, “a controlled voltage or current could do the magic.”
Overtime, I have been forced to rethink that thought. What magic exactly was it going to do? What help would it render them? The only magic I could think of has been the personality change – you know, the part where we help them become who we think they should be, help them act ‘normal’, less weird and more like us.
At some point we have to pause and think: Do all persons really act the same or conform to certain ways? Or is just that we have a range that shouldn’t be crossed? If so, what happens to the real gift of being different? Aren’t we meant to think outside the box anymore? Oh, we still are.
Well, from my first experience with autism, I found a group of persons, so special, different somewhat and who lived outside the box. The ideologies that ensure that we get challenged to do things newly are fully embedded in them and whether they talk in colors, shapes or images, they communicate to those willing enough to listen.
Like Mark Firkin asked; ‘What if autism isn’t a processing error? What if it’s a totally different operating system?’ What would happen if we took more time to understand them, study them like a new course work, master them like a super paying job and think the way they think?
Ask yourself, if I had a pill in hand which could change everything I am, would I swallow it. No? Then give them a chance.
Social acceptance is key. He could be the next Einstein, and even if he isn’t, he could be the dearest friend you ever had.
PS: Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition which affects the way a person communicates with others and how they see the world. It is the third most common childhood disorder and fastest growing developmental disorder.
Written by Godfrey Orji, tweets at @godfrey_orji