Autism “from the inside out”
Yesterday afternoon, the 25th of September, fourth year students were treated to a most interesting talk by a most interesting man. Adam Harris of ASIAM.ie was diagnosed with Asperger’s autism as a child in the early nineties and, despite his parent’s worries that he would never function independently, or interact ‘normally’ with peers and society in general, Adam now travels with his organisation to schools across the country striving to promote awareness, acceptance and most importantly understanding of the condition.
In his eye-opening address Adam engaged the students with autism simulating games and tasks for volunteers to perform in an attempt to illustrate the stress, confusion and frustration that usually characterises the life of a person with this condition. He explained the term stimming, the need for routine that autistic people frequently have and the ways their senses can be divergent. Students were shown examples of famous scientists and actors, artists and business owners, creators and innovators, all experts who excel in their own sphere of interest despite living with what is so often but incorrectly termed as a disability. Adam’s goal was to show the girls the extraordinary heights that people who are different, who think in aberrant, unconventional ways, can reach.
In this country, one in sixty five people are on the autistic spectrum. When asked if they knew anybody like this, nearly every student in the hall raised their hand. When Adam’s presentation had come to its conclusion and he had taken a handful of questions from the girls, each and every student left the GPR with a Pocket Book Guide to Autism and a well-informed knowledge and confidence of how to treat people with the condition; in fact how to maturely interact with anybody they might come across in life who strays from the norm, who suffers from disease or disability, who might be just a little different.