One behaviour that is noticeable in individuals with autism is a desire to follow routines. Some may stick to a daily routine, or the routine may be in how they dress up, or how they get work done etc. Recently I met a child on the spectrum, whose hair combing routine was fascinating. For every time she had to comb her hair, she went about it in a way that almost seemed like a ritual.
While I stared at her as she did her thing (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it), fascinated by her routine, I remembered that I had written an article, “my claim to sameness’’, for an autism online campaign in 2014. I decided to share that article with you:
“There are two possible routes that lead to my house which I like to call the ‘In-route’ and ‘Out-route’. For reasons I cannot remember, I take the ‘Out-route’ when I leave the house and the ‘In-route’ when returning (I guess it’s just a weird habit). Recently, on my way home, a motorcyclist turned to my “Out-route” and immediately, my brain revolted. I insisted that he passed the “In-route” to which he obliged. He didn’t get why I was so insistent; to him, both routes lead to the same house. What he didn’t understand was that it had become a routine for me; this was my “claim to sameness”.
After I alighted from the motorcycle, it occurred to me that the kids I work with also crave the same need for routine. The only difference was that I could communicate my own need but they couldn’t.
It is undeniable that individuals with autism are different; their behaviour, social skills, and communication skills exemplify their peculiarity. However, does this peculiarity make them lesser humans?
Individuals with autism have similar needs as people without autism but the challenges of the disorder have served as limitations to having these needs met. Children on the autism spectrum have similar desires for routine like I do. Like every other individual, children with autism seeking love, acceptance, and a right to be themselves. They want people to look beyond their disorder and see them as individuals. They desire people who will be patient with them as they learn to manage the limitations and challenges they are faced with and they want to love and be loved in return.
Will you at least try?”
*The online autism campaign was organized by The Autism Support Circle Initiative (TASCI), and supported by www.mymindsnaps.com. They had three articles talking about social acceptance for individuals living with autism. Follow @theautism_sci on twitter for more on autism awareness. And please visit mymindsnaps.com. I am you will be glad you did.