2nd of April is Autism Awareness Day and April itself is Autism Awareness Month. It’s time when all spotlights are directed on autism.
Awareness, inclusion, acceptance, education etc. Great! I would say knowledge. I love when autism talks to me. When people tell me what they want, need. My-self as non-autistic person, I can’t imagine, understand and visualise perception and processing of information by people with autism. Well, I know what autism is – understand theory. But knowing that everyone is different and autism affects everyone differently it’s impossible to categorise it.
Autism is my work, path that I follow. I try to help everyone to learn how to swim but as autism – differently, with different swimmers, different approach. Same methods not always work, but with some changes and adaptations I can swim with autism. Very often it means constant adjusting to dinner needs, changing swims, methods or approach. From simply, detailed moves to complex strokes, from hard routine work to fun sessions with freediving and jumps, from strict linear sessions to complete relax and chaotic lessons – as long as it works I’m happy to improvise on the go!
I’ve learnt one thing – and I’m sure that makes a difference – to give autism space, do not push and try to standardise its behaviour, do not try to put it into a ‘normality’ frame! It’s not going to work, it’s not a goal!
Very often to can see me letting my swimmers go and do swim by themselves and me standing and watching – like a day dreaming! – this is my learning moment. I can see if the path we’re on is good one. If autism reacted well and learn another important skill? This is a moment that, hopefully, will bring moments, seconds or full moves of new learnt skills. A moment when expectations are collating with reality, moment before happiness, thumbs up and high fives!
Let autism awareness Day and month last for when Year, educate people and let them understand why autism needs space and time. It’s not about restrictions, framing or normalising. It’s about space and time, acceptance and knowledge. This is normal. This is my understanding of Autism Awareness!