Yesterday, the nytimes.com ran an article on how a father in Sweden saw his son’s autism diagnosis as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. I loved this quote, “To his father, Lars seemed less defined by deficits than by his unusual skills.”
We all should feel that way about our children, don’t you think?
What this father did, after grieving for the child he never had, was realize that his son’s “intense focus and careful execution” were the very same skills he looked for in employees for certain tasks — so he started a consulting firm that pairs autistic professionals with the companies that need them.
I’ve discussed the orchid/dandelion theory here before — and was amused that the Swedish version is the dandelion/dandelion salad theory — but the idea is the same. That the very things that make autistics different can, under the correct circumstances be extremely advantageous. Sure, there was a bit of handwringing in the article and in the comment sections about this creating undue pressure on families of autistics; that now there will be pressure for autistics to be brilliant, when in reality only a few of the applicants to his consultancy are able to work in an office environment. But you know what? Not everybody is qualified for every job, whether you’re autistic or not.
What I did get from this article was an appreciation for celebrating the things that make us different. To relieve us from the pressure to be good at everything — after reading this article I was reminded how essential it is to encourage the natural abilities of all our children, instead of trying to mold them into something they’re not.
I believe this is a lesson we can all use — whether our children are on the spectrum or not.