Introducing the elephant

There is an elephant in the room, and his name is Autism. I love him very much. He is a part of me, and I wouldn’t have him any other way.

My elephant is amazing. He’s bright and intuitive, and kind and loving. He likes big hugs and loves to share good things with his friends. He has big ears to hear everything, and an incredible memory for detail.

My elephant is strong. It takes some effort to get him started, but once he gets going – oh, boy! He powers through issues and obstacles like they’re just not there. Sometimes he doesn’t realise when there are too many, or they’re getting too hard to break through; he doesn’t always see when he should maybe change direction or go for an easier goal. But you give him the impossible and he’ll make it happen.

He’s not subtle, my elephant. He’s blunt, and he gets to the point. He likes to know where he stands. Sometimes he doesn’t quite follow what’s going on in a room, particularly when there are lots of people around. He just can’t switch topics that fast. He’s made for strength, not for agility. But he does his best.

It’s not always easy having an elephant. Those ears that hear everything can struggle to tune out what isn’t good to hear. Bright lights, particularly moving ones, can distract and overwhelm him. Sometimes when there are too many moving lights or sounds, or just too many things to follow, he panics. Have you ever seen a panicking elephant? When he’s frightened, I have to drop everything and focus on making him calm. Otherwise there’s no telling the damage he could do.

Some people don’t like my elephant. He’s quite big, you see, and he blunders into things sometimes that he should leave well alone. He can’t always read what people want from the things they don’t quite say, so it looks like he’s thoughtless or selfish or insensitive. And sometimes when he’s happy he flaps his big ears and squeaks, because that’s what comes naturally to him. That makes people uncomfortable, and he knows that; but it’s good to feel happy and sometimes, for a moment, he forgets. In the end, though, he always remembers.

But I still love my elephant. He is a part of me. I wouldn’t have him any other way.

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