Same or Different
By Nicole Flynn, Associate Consultant
What is normal to you?
In my opinion, “normal” is the setting on a clothes dryer. There is nothing we need to change about our genetic makeup, our differences make us the beautiful people we are. It’s not like turning a knob and all of sudden we are normal; it doesn’t work that way, respecting the differences values the person.
People communicate in a variety of ways. Some find it easy to greet people and start an on-going conversation, others find this difficult. Reading and expressing emotions can be challenging. Having too much sensory stimulation happening at the same time can send some people into an overwhelming, confusing whorl. These are some challenges that a person on the autism spectrum might experience.
I had the privilege of growing up with a group of friends. All of us are atypical and we are different from each other in many ways. We celebrate that we are not neurotypical, and we get along well as friends. We discovered our unique abilities and skills, and we build each other up with support.
Over the years, I have figured out some strategies to work with my friends. First, we establish our boundary for space and mutually develop a schedule. For example, when a team mate and I were at a competition we agreed on a time when we were going to practice and when it was appropriate to hug. This way we knew what to expect.
Second, I learned not to worry about eye contact. I realized that a person who is fidgeting or not looking at me is trying hard to focus. I respect them by continuing to talk and understand that everyone responds in a different way.
Third, I have figured out that people have a different level of tolerance for sensory stimulation. Some people prefer a safe quiet place and others prefer a high-density level of stimulation. I respect each person and try to compromise on the environment.
Overall, it is important to accept different abilities, and love people the way they are, just for being them.
Autistic people do not need to change who they are to be included in their community. Our listening, understanding, and empathy can help us see things from their keen eye. An autistic person might behave differently, but there is room in the world for everyone. A person is full of value just by being who they are.
What would happen in the world if we didn’t have people on the autism spectrum? Including autistic people, allowing their voice to be heard at the table and sharing their creative input validates their value. For me, I am glad that my friends and I are atypical and that “normal” is a setting on the dryer.
Nicole Flynn is from the rural area of Centre Hastings, Ontario. She is a graduate of the Loyalist College General Arts and Science diploma program (not modified). Nicole is an entrepreneur, an Associate Consultant with People Minded Business Inc. (PMB), and an international medalist in three sports. She is a global citizen who believes in freedom, power, and prosperity for everyone.
Nicole’s goal is to experience and learn more about what is happening around the world and to share her knowledge with others. It is her hope that by reading Nicole’s Notes, people will broaden their perspective, re-evaluate their assumptions and attitudes, and bring their creative ideas and inputs to the table.