This has been a challenging week for everyone in Australia’s Autism community. In some ways the thoughtless and ill-informed comments of Pauline Hanson have been a positive thing and clearly the out-pouring of public support for anyone touched by AS is significant.
This week we have seen public statements by very public voices acknowledging for the first time the impact of autism on their own lives. While I am sure the decision to go public was not easy, it saddens me that autism is ever hidden. This is the first time these topics have been widely discussed in politics. And addressing it only after severe negativity is not enough.
Especially for parents of children on the spectrum, the idea that children with autism should in anyway be treated as less than their peers is particularly harmful. The key focus of all support for people on the spectrum must be acceptance and inclusion. Schools are social places. And by accepting and including all leaners in our schools we will ultimately create a better and more inclusive society.
Changing the conversation
So instead of explaining why Pauline Hanson is wrong – let NESTS once again change the conversation. And instead we are asking our followers to pledge to be a little kinder and more understanding to anyone in our community touched by autism. A little kindness can go a long way.
For the caring among us and we hope that is all of our readers, think about going out of your way to include a child, young person or parent touched by autism in your next social outing. Check that these parents are attending to the school coffee morning… That their child is invited to a playdate at the park… That the teenagers are coming to the formal. Make sure inclusion is a key part of how we live our lives.
Here’s what you can do with the kindness towards autism pledge:
What this means is very simple – don’t judge children who are behaving badly instead ask parents if you can help and how. Invite the child with autism in you child’s class to play but before you do find out the things they like/dislike and anything that will may upset them.
And learn more about autism – but remember every child is different. If you know one child with autism, you know one child with autism.
Listen to Waleed Aly because he is an awesome speaker and has a son on the spectrum. Waleed reminds us all that there are “a million different ways” for kids on the spectrum to learn. You can read a transcript of his radio interview here.
Or even better, I think is this article from the Guardian.
Take the pledge here.
And tell us, how will you be a little kinder?