~ 2 minute read
One of the interesting things about my ASD is that even though I’ve had a 25 year career and own my own business, in some areas I am quite emotionally immature. In fact, my 16 year old daughter even says that she is more mature than me! As an example, I am still a big fan of many Disney movies, superhero movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men and Avengers and also Harry Potter and can watch these movies repeatedly. Fortunately, my daughter enjoys watching these movies with me but my husband doesn’t like to watch any movie twice and doesn’t like Harry Potter movies at all.
While superheroes in movies usually have amazing superpowers going for them, such as the power of strength, invisibility and telecommunication that they control at will, it occurred to me while listening to the speakers of the Au-Some Conference 2020, that they also had superpowers! I listened in amazement as each speaker talked about their gifts, resilience and adaptability and what struck me most was everyone had unique talents that made them who they are. If only these superpowers could be what ASD is known for and not as a disability or a deficit!
What is it about superheroes that capture my attention? For me, it is the characteristics of determination, courage and persistence to achieve the greater good in the face of apparently unsurmountable challenges. While in daily life, I may not be working with a team of intergalactic warriors, I see these characteristics as strengths in myself and others with ASD and I recognize and appreciate how these strengths can build self esteem, help us contribute our gifts and encourage positive mindset.
I’m not suggesting anyone do anything crazy like try to fly or jump off a tall building, rather try to expand how to think about contributing your gifts and talents. If you are energized and elevated by music, share this as a gift with others. If your talent is sports, how can you inspire others to take up the joy and challenge of sports? When riding your bicycle, if you relish and revel in the freedom it gives you, how can you contribute to freedom for others?
If we can see ourselves as superheroes, contributing our gifts, talents and strengths even just to win the battle of ASD stigma and overcome social barriers and constructs, this is a pretty great outcome! And if you face failure and unlikely odds, let this be guidance to try another way. Even Harry Potter had to learn each and every spell and enchantment at a disadvantage – starting from eleven years old when many of his peers had known their gifts from birth. So, shine on ASD superheroes! Don’t yield to your fear of failure, you are up to the challenge of elevating awareness through your talents and gifts.
What superpowers do you have to share with the world?
Vicky McGrath is a wife, mom and business owner and was diagnosed with ASD in 2019, at 50 years old. Vicky has an undergraduate degree from Trent University and a master’s degree from Cambridge University. Vicky spent 20 years in the government sector in the environmental field before making the jump to business ownership. Currently, she is owner of a private home care company, caring for elderly clients in the safety of their own homes and also a professional speaker on hiring and retention of ASD employees. Vicky is also a runner and triathlete, having completed several marathons, half marathons and triathlons including half Ironman and 3 full Ironman triathlons. It was during a long training ride in 2006, before her (not to be) third Ironman that Vicky crashed her bicycle, broke some ribs, punctured her lung and sustained a concussion and launched her path of self-discovery, resulting in the ASD diagnosis in 2019.
DISCLAIMER: This document reflects the views of the author. It is Autism Ontario’s intent to inform and educate. Every situation is unique and while we hope this information is useful, it should be used in the context of broader considerations for each person. Please contact Autism Ontario at email@example.com or 416-246-9592 for permission to reproduce this material for any purpose other than personal use. © 2021 Autism Ontario 416.246.9592 www.autismontario.com