Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Awesome Autism

I promised a good friend of mine that I would write something for Autism Awareness Month. I may have left it a bit late, but something happened today that really inspired me. I heard a talk given by a man whose job is to inspire children to enjoy engineering and perhaps, eventually, pursue it as a career. What he said reminded me why autism is awesome and why we need individuals with these particular unique gifts to make the world go round. Here's why... 

The quote that I heard today, was this; 'He was very autistic, He was dyslexic, dyspraxic and had Aspergers, amongst his gifts. But, in those days, there was no definition of normal, so he was accepted exactly as he was'. How wonderful is that? Wouldn't it be lovely if that was how things were now? We all know it should be, but, sadly, it's not always the case. The subject of the above quote was none other than Sir Isaac Newton, and the point the speaker was trying to make was that we need people like him in the world; people who think differently, see things differently and approach life, and its problems, in a different way. Sir Isaac Newton spent his infant years running very fast across the playground and using sticks to mark how far he had travelled. He would then turn around and run the other way, against the wind. In doing this he found out that he couldn't travel so far with the wind against him. This unique way of viewing the world led to some of the discoveries that we now take for granted. We all know about the important laws of physics Newton is responsible for discovering and it's hard to imagine life without knowing; how gravity works, for example. Without Newton's very particular thinking and learning skills, all the advancements in technology that rely on these laws would never have happened. The study of aerodynamics is based on gravity, and that's how we can fly, and drive really, really fast. Satellites and GPS also rely on it and the recent developments in Gravitational Waves could not have happened without that first observation of an apple falling from a tree.  

Another influential scientist who had Autism, was Albert Einstein and no one can be in any doubt of how valuable his contributions have been to modern physics. It is also believed that celebrated Italian Renaissance painter and sculptor Michaelangelo was autistic. His gifts to the art world include the Sistine Chapel Frescoes and the Statue of David. Fast forward to 2016 and you will find members of the Autistic Spectrum in all walks of life; scientists, IT professionals, actors. Bill Gates, for one, Dan Ackroyd, for another, and wildlife expert Chris Packham, to name a few. Many, many, hugely creative, intelligent people, creating and contributing to all of our lives. So when are we going to treat autistic individuals, particularly children, with the respect and understanding that they deserve? That's what it's all about; understanding. Just because someone thinks, or behaves, differently to me or you, that doesn't make them wrong. Taking the time to learn how to communicate and make friends with those on the Autistic Spectrum and teaching children to do the same is the least we can do. Particularly as those people could one day be designing your next car or advancing technologies that make your life easier, or safer or more fun. So, instead of trying to make them fit the established social norms, maybe the question we should all be asking is; how can we fit in with them? 



  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I didn't know about Bill Gates, I am not surprised about Dan Ackroyd but again didn't know. Watch this space for my daughter's name in the future.

  2. Yes, love it. We should be fitting in with them; we should all exist happily together and appreciate everyone's individual strengths and qualities!

  3. I love this post. My son is autistic and the first person in our family to have a diagnosis..but I doubt he's the first autistic person in our family..temple Grandin once suggested that we would still be living in caves if it wasn't for autistic cavemen!

  4. I really love this Lucy! A post I completely agree with! More acceptance and less ignorance is definitely needed. If only everyone could see it the same way! Thank you so much for joining me on #spectrumsunday I really hope you join me again this week! xx


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