By: Ma Fernanda Camacho (Translated by Patricia Minski)
Nicolas (not his real name) is an 8-year-old boy.
He has wavy hair like the waves of the sea, olive eyes and a smile that shines from meters away.
He loves to ride bikes, run free in the park, jump; he loves physical activity. He also enjoys listening to music, and sometimes cries out of nowhere, but cannot articulate the reason for his crying.
He now maintains eye contact with people, however, maintaining physical contact is not to Nicolas’ liking.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in every 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Nicolas is part of this statistic.
He was diagnosed when he was 2 years old, and since then he has had to deal with a world full of prejudice and misinformation.
According to Neural, a neurological rehabilitation center in Spain, Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by the presence of persistent deficiencies in communication and social interaction.
Nicolas is highly organized and follows a routine almost religiously.
He gets up, babbles a word or two, listens to music.
Then his parents wake up and ask him if he wants to take a bath, sometimes he agrees, sometimes not.
Then he dresses and eats breakfast, what he likes best is usually pancakes with honey.
He goes to school, comes back in the afternoon, takes a hot bath and gets ready for lunch.
Later, he often takes pictures of whatever among his surroundings may attract his attention.
Sometimes she has speech therapy and sometimes music.
Afterwards he usually takes pictures of what catches his attention around him.
The hours go by and it gets dark, so Nicolas has a snack, chooses the pajamas he likes best and goes to sleep.
Although he doesn’t talk much, he looks for ways to communicate what he wants.
The communication process is one of the most complicated aspects to cope with, because he doesn’t know how to convey what he feels or thinks.
He loves to play with other children, but finds it difficult to get close to them.
Every day is a constant struggle to fit in.
A CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE
There are others with conditions similar to that of Nicolas.
April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day.
This was created by the United Nations General Assembly with the purpose of contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of people with this symptomatology, so that they can become an integral part of society.
But it is not only on April 2 that awareness of this condition should be raised.
It is necessary to be informed and understand how this disorder works, in order to avoid falling into false conceptions and stereotypes that only harm and misinform.
Autism causes changes in the perception of reality.
So if one day you meet someone who screams or behaves “atypically” according to social norms, remember that the sensory perceptions of people with autism are different from ours.
Also, a low and insignificant noise to you may be received as a burst of sounds and sensations to a person with autism.
Why wait for someone with autism to adapt when it is easier for us to adapt to them?
The world is full of stigmas.
It is easy to discriminate and judge, but in doing so the only thing that is achieved is demonstrating a lack of compassion.
People with autism see the world differently.
Let’s stop trying to make everyone the same, let’s stop rejecting, let’s stop pointing fingers.
It is time to start accepting, it is time to be more humane. People with autism cannot change their condition, but we can change.
If all people were the same, life would have no spark, it would simply have no meaning.
It is time to be inclusive and to understand that each person is a different world, and that this is precisely the most wonderful thing about existence.
Therefore, it is time to create a universe that is made up of these individual worlds.