I read a book recently that was impressive to me. Uniquely Human is written about people who are autistic. However, my mind has been taking some of the ideas farther than autism.

The book speaks of how autism therapy typically focuses on trying to eliminate the unique and at times challenging behaviors that are a hallmark of autism. Some professionals would claim to be able to cure someone of autism, treating it as a disease. Many people on the ASD spectrum struggle with repetitive behaviors, rigidity, social skills, and communicating. We try to teach them how to interact in a typical way and learn to act more like their neurotypical peers. Dr Prizant’s methods would recommend letting the person with autism be who they really are, building on their strengths instead of focusing on only their weak points. That is not to leave off learning good manners and respect for the people around us.

We all have particular behaviours and strategies for helping us cope with stress, boredom, and other challenges we face. Dr Prizant would argue that people with autism are no different; their methods are just a bit different than neurotypical individuals. They are uniquely human and unique is not a negative. Everyone has idiosyncrasies in some area or another. This brings to mind the message we heard at the Care Meeting in Detroit in July about everyone being broken in one way or another.

Why do we feel the need at times to make someone into a different person than the one God created them to be? Everyone has strengths and abilities that are uniquely their own. Rather than change the person, why not build on their strengths, and offer support to assist them in leading a fulfilling life? Keep in mind that what I view as a fulfilling life may not be the same for everyone.

Perhaps I feel they would have a better life if they would just change the way they do a task or manage their life in general. If they would communicate in a more open way, it would make life a lot easier. Their odd behaviors make me uncomfortable. Maybe this could go into other areas too. We try to rush a friend through a hard time in their life or try to fix circumstances that we think are less than desirable.

As I think of the above statements, what I perceive as helping someone appears to be more about making myself comfortable, not about making the other person’s life better. My own comfort levels seem so important; we tend to avoid circumstances where we are out of our comfort zone.

What if we got comfortable with being uncomfortable? What kind of adventures would the Lord give us? Instead of clinging to our own rigidity, why not let go of our “right” way of doing things. The view from someone else’s front window could be pretty amazing if we take the time to enjoy the view together.

Ida Klassen