Monday, April 11, 2011
OLIVIA - FACES OF AUTISM | Goodhart Photography, Northern Virginia and Loudoun County Family and Portrait Photographer
This is Olivia. She's beautiful.
She's also intelligent, emotional, and kind. She loves nature, animals, and singing. Listen to her sing the Star Spangled Banner below.
Olivia is also autistic.
She has many gifts, but her autism does make some things much more difficult for her, such as friendship. The negotiating, the give-and-take, the body language, the way inflections change the meaning of words -- much of this is beyond Olivia's abilities right now.
Her intelligence serves her well, however. One day at school a group of girls were playing, and Olivia wanted to join in. So she went to the nicest girl in the group and asked if she could play with them, and the girl said yes. Later that evening, Olivia drew a picture in her diary of a group of girls, and she wrote, "I'm part of the group". As her mother questioned her, she realized how extraordinary this was, all of the complex steps Olivia had taken to achieve her objective:
1. She realized she wasn't part of the group
2. She wanted to be part of the group
3. There was an impediment, one or more of the girls were likely to say "No" to Olivia if she asked to play
4. She choose the nicest girl to ask, thereby increasing the likelihood of success.
Other challenges Olivia faces include remaining calm when her expectations don't meet reality. She can cry easily at school when, for example, a substitute teacher makes a new request or changes a routine that the regular classroom teacher has established.
And she also has anxiety, not just about routines being changed, but sometimes about ideas or images that she can't help perseverating on.
She knows some people in school think she is "weird", but she also knows she isn't "weird", she just has autism. Listen below to hear her message about autism:
To learn more about autism, visit The American Autism Society