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Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving Thanks for Autism

Note: Since this is still November, a month in which we emphasize thanksgiving, I thought I would recycle this blog post from a few months ago. Next Monday will be A Faith Test for Writers, Part 2. Thanks for the read!

Some may think this a strange title for a post.

When parents watch their child from birth and notice difficulties with speech, or perhaps no speech at all, and they struggle with their child’s temper tantrums when routines are disrupted, and then finally learn their child is autistic, they usually do not rejoice.

Yet doesn’t the Bible teach us to give thanks always, to rejoice always?

And, may I submit, parents may actually have reasons for rejoicing and giving thanks. Many people with autism are remarkable people with remarkable strengths. Their brains function differently than the so-called normal brains, but that may actually be a good thing. A very good thing.

For example, one twelve-year-old, Jacob Barnett, diagnosed with autism, is challenging Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Jacob has an IQ of 170 and left high school at the age of eight. Eight.Here’s Jacob Barnett in 2009 discussing dark matter.

 

Albert Einstein himself was believed to be autistic. Other famous people who may have been autistic were Mozart, Emily Dickinson, Lewis Carroll, Isaac Newton, and Thomas Jefferson, to name but a few.

Autistic people “have unique strengths such as memory, attention to detail and the ability to keep track of seemingly unrelated facts. These strengths are very useful in computer and engineering fields. . . Autistic people can easily identify shapes embedded in designs or individual notes embedded in musical chords – shapes and patterns that normal people often do not see. This ability to think and see in patterns means the autistic brain has the potential for unusual excellence in math, chess, computer programming, music, engineering and physics.” (Read more at Suite101: New Research on Autism Reveals Benefits http://www.suite101.com/content/new-research-on-autism-reveals-benefits-a237273#ixzz1JqMBfmEr)

On American Idol this season is an autistic named James Durbin. He has been diagnosed with Asperger’s (a form of autism) as well as Tourette’s Syndrome. Despite, or perhaps because of his Asperger’s, he is one of the frontrunners. Time will tell if he is able to excel in a musical career.

This is Durbin, before becoming a contestant, singing “The Star Spangled Banner”:

For the Mozarts, the Dickinsons, the Barnetts and the Durbins, for all the autistics who enrich our lives and leave us in awe, I give thanks and rejoice that God has seen fit to bless us with them.

 

 

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