A few days ago, several incidences came up where I was reflecting on the “Sweetness” of Autism. My first day back to work full time after a summer off working only one day a week, I read a fellow Single Mom by Choice’s blog post about a book about mindfulness which made me tune into the fact I was really missing my almost 7 year old son with aspergers because he is always so happy to be with me and to cuddle.
Later while catching up with a co-worker about work and family, she told me an experience she recently had which brought the “Sweetness” of Autism to mind again. She has an 8 year old son with Autism and a 6 year old son. In light of the Olympic coverage of Winston Churchill and World War II, she had been talking to the 6 year old about war and he told his mom “I wish they had autism presidents along with regular presidents because if my brother was president we would not have any war.” His experience with his brother is one where he is very sweet and not competitive.
While there is a wide range of children on the spectrum and each child is unique, it is not uncommon to find this “Sweetness” with these children.
The recurrence of this “Sweetness” in my thoughts and conversations made me think back to a recent public debacle started by Joe Scarborough on his MSNBC Morning Joe program when he speculated with no evidence that the shooter in the Colorado theater is on the autism spectrum. (Here is one article on the original statement). He later apologized and said what he said did not come out right (Another article). What this debacle brought to light for me is the fact that there is a public perception that Autistic people have a propensity to violence which is not really true. Current research shows Autistic people are less likely to commit violent crimes (Last article).
There is also the link with Autism to a Lack of Empathy which makes it sound like Autistic people are not loving, but really it is more of a problem of Theory of Mind where it is not easy for the Autistic mind to figure out what another person is feeling or thinking, but this does not make Autistic people less loving.
While my son can fight with his sister like the best of siblings, in general he does not like her to be upset and will often give into her (which she fully takes advantage of to get him to do what she wants 😉 ). He can also throw a tantrum, screaming and throwing things, when he does not get his way, but in general he is a sweet child that most people are drawn to because of his “Sweetness”.
Share your experiences with the “Sweetness” of Autism here to help change the public perception of Autistic people.