Hello parents and teachers! Thomas Kuzma here. Welcome to a new episode of Aspire
I have been thinking about beginnings and the new steps we take when we discover something important in our world, in our case, an autism diagnosis. These first steps can be very intimidating and may bring on a lot of stress and anxiety. If you have just discovered that your child is on the autism spectrum, then the next few months is going to be an important time in helping them to form a lasting idea of who they are.
The autistic mind can be like a steel trap. We can remember all the great times in our lives as clear as day; however, this also applies to our worst moments. There are moments that I have had to deal with for years because the painful thoughts won’t escape my brain. Because of this, you need to think about your next steps quite carefully.
I was lucky enough to have supportive parents throughout my journey into the world of autism. They knew I would prefer to hear about my diagnosis from the therapist I was seeing, supported me in my interests and became patient when I had my meltdowns. When I had difficulties with motor functions, they got me to become better but allowed me to add my spin on things, like adding symbols from games I liked.
It’s funny that they call it a ‘diagnosis’ of autism. You can’t be diagnosed with something nice. No one says, “I diagnose you with ‘Totally Relaxed Syndrome’”. Diagnoses usually have connotations with a disease, so when you discover you are on the spectrum, it doesn’t exactly feel like something to celebrate. This is where you come in. Now I am not a parent but I feel like one of the great things about raising a child is that you get to sculpt a child’s mentality into something amazing. This is where your child’s diagnosis becomes an opportunity
You are probably wondering “how is my child’s autism an opportunity?” Let me show you what I mean.
You have just discovered something that is going to be a big part of your child’s life, and now you have access to a wide variety of resources that can help you learn more about them. You have the opportunity to showcase the strengths that autism gives to your child by encouraging them to develop their own unique talents. On a more personal matter, you can now explore what neurodiversity is, and how it is important to our society!
Speaking of Neurodiversity, it’s important to realise that just like biodiversity and racial diversity, Neurodiversity helps our society thrive, grow and develop. And your new experience with autism can help everyone succeed and take steps towards a brighter tomorrow!
I realise not all of you will share my positive vision, and that your child may have a longer journey than others in some parts of life. But for all those parents out there I say your patience is one of the most heart-warming things I have seen. Your path may be different, but by changing your perceptions of what success looks like, your life will become more manageable, which is something I have had to learn all too well.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actor, which changed to be an animator when I reached year 10. In time, I would realise the difficulty that pertained to that line of employment and became unemployed for a long time. It was with the help of my family and peers in the autism community that I was able to build myself back up and now I mentor autistic students to understand the world they live in today.
I was able to find a secure job that was fit for me by channeling my strengths, but I wouldn’t have had that if it weren’t for my parents. They never gave up on me and always gave me the best feedback they could with smiles on their faces.
In the Kuzma household, whenever autism is brought up, it’s always in a positive light, because of how important it is to me. Autism is important to your child too, they may not accept it or acknowledge it now, however with unconditional love you guys are able to take what is just a ‘diagnosis’ and turn it into their greatest strength.