As the “season of giving” is approaching at a rapid pace, we at AIMS Global and AIMS Online decided we want to provide more insights into what it might be like for individuals on the autism spectrum.
We have asked the kids that we work with to let us know how they see, feel and experience the world and the answers we received were astonishing! We also asked all our therapists and professionals in the field to find experiences that they believe have helped them associate with their clients or children more.
We are excited to share these stories with you and will do so on a weekly basis. I will take the liberty to share an experience of a friend of mine that reminded me how mindful we should be of differences in people and how these can affect all areas of our lives.
My friend is left-handed, as many people are in the world. He mentioned that although it is such a slight and very normal difference from him to most of his friends that it presents many difficulties, although minor, and has the ability to frustrate him on a daily basis. As I listened to his list of experiences being left-handed in a majority “right-hand world”, I started relating this slight difference to how some of our kids on the spectrum might experience daily frustrations.
Here are the list of experiences that my friend mentioned:
- Scissors – most scissors are for right-handed individuals. He struggled throughout his early years understanding why he couldn’t cut paper when he borrowed scissors from friends or just used the ones at his home. He mentioned that it would not just be scissors, but any tool that he found and felt he couldn’t manipulate this accurately. He thought there was something wrong with his hands.
When we think of our kids diagnosed with ASD – they sometimes struggle with fine motor skills and I thought about the experience my friend had. Do we want our kids to feel that there is something wrong with their motor movement or might it be a different way they can manipulate fine motor tools – perhaps also not forcing our kids to engage in these activities until they are ready.
- Musical instruments – my friend is a creative individual that is mainly introverted, but expresses his creativity through arts and music. He was unable to play musical instruments when he was young as these are mainly designed for right-handed individuals again.
Kids on the autism spectrum would often find “their voice” or confidence when engaged in songs, playing musical instruments or other creative activities. Let’s try and remember the experience my friend had with these – even though he became brilliant with musical instruments designed for left-handed individuals, he was thought of not being musical as a child. Our kids’ interests will change, their ability to engage in these will do too. Let’s offer them the time and patience to explore all of these fabulous activities in their own time.
- Sitting at a dinner table next to a right-handed person. The next time you have dinner, try and switch your knife and fork around and focus on not dropping your food 🙂 I feel that is a similar feeling to what some of our kids might feel when they struggle with spatial awareness and perhaps bump into objects or people.
- Writing from left to right. This was an experience that I never thought of as being problematic for individuals that are left-handed. It makes total sense though, why are we only writing from one side to the other (in most languages)? Why do we not have a choice and who decided “right-handed” individuals are the ones that we should listen to in terms of their interests and way of doing things?
I am sure other left-handed individuals can add to this list, but I wanted to end this blog with a quote from my very special left-handed friend:
“I see that being left-handed contributed in making me more adaptable and open-minded. While I found all of the above frustrating, that very feeling helped me develop a problem-solving attitude I would have probably struggled to achieve at the same speed being right-handed.”
Now is this not something that we can relate with to our kids on the spectrum? They have to constantly adapt to our world, our way of doing things, our rules. Let’s remember this the next time we see our child looking frustrated and rather than “pushing through the behavior” give them the opportunity to relax in their sensory corner – showing them you understand and accept them just the way they are.
Have a lovely weekend ahead and speak soon!
Co-founder: AIMS Global