Valuing Your Students Opinions
A common trait of Autism is not being very flexible with ideas along with Black and White thinking. Some of my students have "traditional values" and that may be a reflection of their Autism. An issue that comes up with quite a few clients, not being respected for their personal views or beliefs.
Thankfully in 2018 there is far less discrimination over race, religion, disability or gender. Then why is there discrimination over differing political beliefs? Now, I do not mean for this article to be a pro or con on any political side, I merely want to open our eyes to the needs and opinions of those students with Autism, LD, ADHD etc that they too can be heard and respected for their values. Values which are sometimes conservative by nature.
The word Conservative is not supposed to give one a knee jerk reaction and think "Alt right tiki torch nazis". It's just a political leaning or a personal way of being:
- holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.
Sound like any autistic students you know?
Now before I get a flood of angry emails, I also know a lot of students with very left leaning values and some with zero interest in politics, science or religion but they are not upset about being marginalized, singled out or afraid to share their views. One thing about a child on the spectrum, their stance on a issue is often well researched and generally based on facts, less on opinion from my experience. So we may not agree with their point of view but we can be darned sure they took the time to think long and hard about it before coming to their stance. We must also remember, many on the spectrum are very kind hearted, seek fairness and usually quite upset when they have wronged another person. Their views are not meant to upset you. They are often based on a well thought out argument but not often thinking about your feelings on the subject or being subtle when sharing.
In 2018, nearly all of us live in a echo chamber where our views and values are reflected in the news and social media. We can also be limited by our Belief System or as I like to call it, B.S. Your B.S sometimes affects your ability to listen to others and take in new ideas. I am merely asking that we look past our views and as long as it harms non, listen and open your heart. A little understanding and patience goes a long way to a student who may not get a chance to share his/her opinions. We may not agree but at least we can listen and allow our students to feel at home in our care. Trust, an open mind and love are wonderful learning tools. Please dont let your personal views stifle the voice of your students, they have a right to share too.
Peace and Love to you all!
From our Just For Girls leader, Margo Comeau
Autism leans toward rigid black and white thinking and difficulty seeing things from another’s perspective. This neurological obstacle doesn’t handicap someone’s ability to reason or come up with their own philosophies. We all have unique ways of perceiving the world and shouldn’t “knock em down a peg” because we don’t agree with them. I know I debate a lot online but I would never stifle someone’s spark because we don’t see eye to eye. Teens on the spectrum are very sensitive to criticism due to not developing typically - typically lacking the proper social skills to rebute difference of opinion or handle conflict. It takes someone very intuitive to mentor those of the spectrum whilst respecting their autonomy. Thank you John Anderson for sticking up for these misunderstood minds.
lPlease visit Margo's FB page and be sure to check out her insightful blog:
At Spectrum insights we have a POLICY that all staff/volunteers must read and sign before working with our students. in it is written:
Values and Opinions
We respect the voice of all the students at Spectrum Insights. We encourage free speech and teach students how to listen and respect differing opinions or values. We do not discriminate over race, religion, gender nor political views. Every person has walked a different path than us, we must respect their path, cultural and spiritual views. We do not impose personal agendas when it comes to the above topics. We teach how to listen and recognize the feelings of others and never single out a child. If a topic incites a heated debate, we ask that all parties conclude the conversation. When appropriate, we can then teach the students how to discuss in a more appropriate manner. Often views and opinions may differ from our own and may not reflect what is popular in the moment.