Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Autism Answer: My Birthmark

So, I have this little birthmark on the back of my left hand. It's brown, band-aid shaped and pretty noticeable. I'll be honest, I kinda like it!

One of the things I adore about my birthmark is that it encourages some of the most interesting reactions from strangers! When I offer my hand to be stamped for example, sometimes people stamp carefully beside the birthmark, or very softly on it, or cringe and ask for my other hand please, or just simply stamp and move on. I have never, ever minded any one of these reactions! I am always thrilled to giggle and explain why it's no big deal, just a birthmark. Not contagious or painful. Every time (so far!) the person has been made slightly more comfortable because of my comfort, and often tells me that the birthmark is cute!

Okay, so I know that my birthmark is not at all the same as being autistic or loving someone with autism. Autism challenges a person to experience the world in ways that most others can't understand; the environment looks and feels and behaves different for people on the autism spectrum, making our moments considerably contrasting even when we are standing side by side. 

So why the hay am I telling you about my silly birthmark?

Well, because it has always been my comfort and lack of feeling offended that makes my birthmark a cute addition to the world of me. When people shy away from it, I know full well that they just don't know what it is or how they should react to it. So, I comfortably tell them! When people avoid looking or admitting that they see it, I totally get it! I've been the person trying not to stare or ask questions in an attempt to be accepting. 

In other words, if you are comfortable when explaining your challenges or your children's challenges, it will help others feel comfortable too. And if you choose not to be offended when people are challenged to know how to behave around you (my autistic brother can't stand the condescendingly kind strangers and usually gets wildly noisy for their benefit!) and instead offer some suggestions, then more and more people will not only become comfortable, but also willing to ask questions with honest interest and a hope to help!

So, my birthmark is nothing like autism. But living with autism has helped me feel very comfortable with all the reactions it gets while offering kind explanation. Which, fantastically, has helped me be comfortable sharing what I know about the autism in my family!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)