With the start of another school year upon us, and sports and social activities resuming, we are filled with both excitement and fear. Excitement because our kids can finally get outside and have fun again, but fear because as always, we worry about inclusion.

Inclusion is a topic that is very important to us, both in our personal lives and our professional lives. So, I was thrilled when my niece, Emily, agreed to paint four very special canvases for our new office about inclusion.

  • Different not less
  • Autism – seeing the world from a different perspective
  • Don’t tolerate me because I’m different – accept me as part of a spectrum of normalcy
  • I wouldn’t change you for the world – but I would change the world for you

Each canvas has an important message about both inclusion and Autism – and it’s even more special when your niece paints these beautiful messages for her cousin, our boy Jayden.

Different not less

Those with Autism, are simply people who think differently – this is a recognized mantra as Autistic individuals may have different strengths and weaknesses than the general population. But it does not make them any less – if anything it makes them more. I have met so many people since Jayden’s diagnosis who have spoken to me about their feelings of heartbreak when they first received the news that one of their loved ones had been diagnosed with Autism. And that is because before understanding Autism, people just think about the challenges and difficulty of social inclusion. But what people need to remember is that the person who has been diagnosed with Autism is exactly the same person as before they were given the label. The difference now is that we have more understanding about why they might do things a bit differently, and these unique traits can be recognised, explored, and enjoyed.

Seeing the world from a different perspective

This saying is definitely one that rings true to me, because we spend so much time trying to ‘understand’ people with Autism. But the truth is, that maybe their way of seeing the world, actually makes more sense. Jayden has taught us so much about seeing the finer things in life, taking words and sayings for their literal meaning and for not getting caught up in society’s expectations, but seeing the world for what you want it to be.

Don’t tolerate me because I’m different – accept me as part of a spectrum of normalcy

This helps explain the difference between tolerating and acceptance. This is so true and so common in many circles of life. Tolerating someone might mean that you allow them to join a group, allow them to sit next to you or let them join in on a game. But it doesn’t mean that you welcome them.  Accepting someone with Autism and including their spectrum of normalcy means you accept their ‘quirks’ and you try to see the world from their point of view. You don’t need to like their point of view, but you should respect and accept it.

I wouldn’t change you for the world – but I would change the world for you

Autistic traits make Jayden unique, but I wouldn’t change him at all.  This quote is important to us, as the world is a scary place, and people can be so mean – so if we could, we would change the world for our boy (and any of our children). Uniqueness and quirks are what make the world interesting.  As a parent you worry about whether they will behave, whether they will be included, whether they will learn ‘the right way’. But the reality is, they are perfect the way they are – even when they get it wrong, because that is what makes them who they are. The world isn’t perfect either, so sometimes we wish we could change the world to be a perfect place for our children.

I am so proud, as an aunty, and a mother, to hang these prints in our reception for all our clients and guests to view when they enter our office.  Thank you, Emily, for your amazing work and helping us spread our message of inclusion and acceptance.

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