Have you tried to explain Autism to someone? It’s not that easy is it? I often wonder how the person with Autism thinks about describing the “Big A”? I thought about the song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in the movie, The Wizard of Oz. Like Dorothy, people with Autism are searching constantly for security and familiarity. “There is no place like home!” is about getting back to Kansas, Auntie Em, and Uncle Henry. Keeping things the same is a primary objective for persons with Autism. Being around the family feels safe and comfortable.
But where is “somewhere”? In the journey of life somewhere seems like an elusive place- just like a rainbow. It’s like seeing a rainbow after a storm while you are driving in a car. You think you are going to get closer to the rainbow as you keep driving but you never do. It is just beyond reach, always in the distance.
Thoughts and feelings are not easy to locate or define specifically. They are there somewhere inside of the autistic person’s mind and body. However trying to reach the feelings and be certain of them is like pursuing a rainbow, just beyond reach.
Another part of the song has the words, “Why, oh why can’t I?” People with Autism feel anxious and depressed because pathways in life are uncertain, changing, and unprecise. Sometimes this results in paralysis, just freezing and not taking a step forward. Often it means just sticking with known pathways and not venturing out in life.
There is hope! Persons with Autism and family members should focus on strengths. Notice more of what is working well and put energy there. Find mentors who can give guidance and simple explanations for travel in unknown paths. Such “wizards” help people with Autism look inside and find courage, perseverance, and problem-solving skills. They also help make the world seem less scary and dark as they describe life in small simple steps. Dorothy had companions on her journey. Make one friend and get a pet. Talk to them about your feelings while on the journey. Dreams do come true somewhere over the rainbow!