The Balance Challenge

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I’ve worked with folks with autism for many years and in a few different capacities—as a teacher, a tutor, a social group facilitator, a staff developer, and as a colleague. I’ve come to see the neurodiversity movement as a crucial perspective to understand and appreciate the differences in autistic and neurotypical thinking. There’s been a lot written on this topic, and I’ll leave the bulk of that discussion to terrific self-advocates like Karla Fisher and Nick Walter among others.

One concept has emerged as central in conceptualizing autism and supporting autistic individuals: finding a balance.

For example:

  • There is much discussion in the “field” about finding a balance between viewing autism as a difference and a disability (Judy Endow has a great post about this)
  • In educating students with autism, teachers need to find a balance between providing structure and encouraging flexibility.
  • And regarding support for autistic folk with social challenges, there’s the issue of finding a balance between understanding neurotypical thinking and embracing autistic thinking.

I’ll share more on each of these ideas soon, but I’d like to start with a concrete example.

Finding a Balance Between My Wants and Other People’s Wants

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One of the most fundamental balance challenges in any social interaction is to figure out how much to jump in / share / contribute / participate, and when to hold back / listen / take a pause.

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