Embracing Autism Through A Buddhist Lens

Same river twiceSaying ‘I have autism’ is a way of expressing that I don’t think of autism as something I have, but as something with which I have a relationship.
My studies in Buddhism have significantly shaped this perspective. They have taught me to appreciate the interdependence we share with each other and the world around us. Autism is dynamic, like the weather, the economy, relationships, and life in general.
Heraclitus famously observed, ‘You can’t step in the same river twice,’ because it’s always moving. It stands to reason that we don’t experience the same autism twice. With its complexity and reactivity to the dynamic world around us, who we are has as much to do with where we are, what’s happening there, and what needs are met, and to what degree, at any given moment.
I’ve learned to see myself as an observer of the dynamic dance of life. I’ve learned how not to take things personally, to regulate my emotions, and not to take my thoughts too seriously. I’ve also learned to meet my experience without judgment, with patience, curiosity, and compassion. I didn’t pop a pill to make any of this happen; I did the work.
Also, saying ‘I have autism’ doesn’t mean I think I have a disease. That’s a short-sighted metaphor dripping with confirmation bias that lacks appreciation for the bigger picture of what it means to be human.
I can give you a list of qualities ‘I have’ that are a ‘part’ of who I am as a human being. For example, ‘I have creativity,’ ‘I have a sense of humor,’ ‘I have autism,’ ‘I have integrity.’ It’s describing a personal quality, among many complementary qualities. It’s not calling it an illness.
Learning to approach life, your thoughts and emotions in the way I’ve described has helped my clients become free of the relenting inner critic that kept them at the entrance of life, too afraid to venture out, take risks and learn from experience. But now, they’re confident, empowered, and living more fully than before. I invite you to click here and consider what my mentoring can do for you.
Sometime I’ll tell you about my son, who refers to himself as ‘autistic.’ There’s a reason I don’t badger him in an effort to convince him to think the way I do. Because it’s none of my business, and it’s his decision how he wants to see himself. It’s my job to support and guide him along the way.
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