I think that our children and students could be compared to the hole in the ground at the beginning of a construction project. Unfortunately, some people tend to view some individuals, including those with autism or other diagnoses, in terms of what they're "missing." There is perhaps no greater frustration for me than to hear someone declare when a child is young that "he will never be in a regular classroom," "he will never drive," or "she will never live independently." That's as ridiculous as saying to an architect or contactor, "That hole will never be a home!"
While the diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is primarily based on differences, delays, or deficits, each individual has numerous strengths as well. Diagnosis or no diagnosis, our children are a "hole" lot of potential! They are already unique individuals, and there is a special blueprint for each of their lives. While we do not have access to the final blueprint, and do not know what they will grow up to be, we can help to ensure that they receive the finest construction throughout the entire process. How wonderful it is when we help our children catch that vision by saying things like, "You have such talent for writing--I'll bet you could write a book someday!" or "You are a very diligent worker. Someone will be fortunate to have you as an employee when you get older, and I'm blessed to have you as my helper," or even, "You've studied hard for that test. No matter how well you do on it, I'm proud of you for preparing so thoroughly!"
And while we're at it, don't forget the potential that YOU possess as an individual working on behalf of people with differences such as ASD. One person CAN make a difference! I'll close with an inspiring quote by Joyce Maynard, "It's not only children who grow. Parents [and other adults] do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself."
Let's continue to work on this valuable construction project; building a world that's open to and values the unique perspectives and abilities of each and every person! Now that's true “social incite!”