“Children with Autism CAN Connect”
I was in a meeting last week and someone stated that children who have Autism don’t know how to connect with others and I was shocked. This was stated in a group setting and I stopped her as I stated that children with autism CAN connect, and it is us who are disconnected to the world around us. For someone to tell a group of individuals that children with Autism can’t connect floored me and I couldn’t sit with a group of people I didn’t know and let them walk away thinking this about them.
Children with Autism feel so much in many different ways and they all have their own individual sensory profile on how they process information, that is why it is named Autism Spectrum. It might seem that they are shutting you out when they are really processing what you are telling them in their own way. Just because someone isn’t making eye contact doesn’t mean they aren’t listening to what you are saying. Does this mean they can’t connect? People need to be educated on how to connect with a child with Autism, and unfortunately people shy away from things they are not comfortable when dealing with someone who is different from themselves or never experienced someone with special needs, which is really sad. When was the last time you asked a parent who is dealing with their child in the community who is having a meltdown if they needed help? Like I said people are scared of what they don’t know and how to deal with situations like that, and as much as I get that, it does not make it right. I feel as a community we need to help one another get through our daily struggles when it comes to raising a child who has special needs.
A child with Autism feels deeply and if you take a close look to their non-verbal communication they will tell you everything with their body language. But again that comes down to the other person slowing down and paying attention to what the child with Autism is saying to them through their non-verbal cues. With technology everyone is moving at a pace that is way too fast and I do feel children with autism are here to teach us to slow down and do each thing one step at a time while being mindful. So the next time someone tells you that children with autism can’t connect I would ask you to challenge them to slow down and follow the child’s lead and see what happens. You might find a beautiful connection forming the minute you let go of all the pre-expectations when you are with a child with Autism. There hasn’t been a child I haven’t been able to connect with and it comes down to being patient and following their lead and not having expectations. The moment you can get rid of all expectations, your agenda and work with an open heart is when you feel the connection with the child that at one point you might have not have felt if you didn’t slow down your pace to find the beauty they have to offer the world.
Vanessa Kahlon, MA
Founder & Executive Director
Kahlon Family Services,