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April Newsletter




May 6, 2024





As we move on into May and reflect on Autism Awareness and Acceptance day, I wanted to reflect and share my personal journey as an autistic individual.  My name is Maisie Soetantyo, and I was born and raised in Indonesia. I am a late-diagnosed Autistic person who also has ADHD, auditory and sensory processing differences, as well as number dyslexia. Despite the challenges I have had, I have come to embrace my neurodivergent identity and believe that being autistic has shaped me in unique and positive ways. Below are strengths I see in myself as an Autistic human:

The Cup is Always Half Full: Seeing Possibilities.

One of the ways I am wired differently is my ability to see possibilities first when I meet someone. Over the past 30 years, I have had a special interest in supporting Autistic people with higher support needs. When I meet a non-speaking person, I see possibilities in that person to grow, as well as possibilities for me to learn new information so I could best support that person. Seeing possibilities first makes me very good at working with the neurodivergent community.

When I encounter someone who is struggling, I immediately think about how I can support them and help make their life more meaningful. This perspective can also be applied to the people surrounding them, as I see the possibilities of how others can be proactive in supporting individuals on the autism spectrum.

There is Always a Silver Lining.

Due to my learning differences, school was always very difficult for me. Academically and socially, I was steps behind my peers even with tutoring, sleepless nights, and extra efforts! My Mom was so great at helping me see the other side of a tough situation. When I failed a math course that I had already repeated, my mom would point out for me the other subjects I did well in. She told me that I should not always look up at other people’s accomplishments, because when I look down, I would find out thatI was doing just fine where I was.

Because of my difficulties growing up, I became very good at finding workarounds for myself and others. I don’t give up easily! When you are a neurodivergent human, it’s always a marathon, you will eventually get there when we can, and that’s a moment worth celebrating!

Why Become Like Everyone Else If You Can Shine in YourOwn Way?

I know that I am here for a reason. Once I received my autism diagnosis, that reason became crystal clear. I am here to bring our community together so Autistic people can belong, thrive, and contribute to society, each in our own way. Autistic individuals have differences in sensory perception, communication preferences and thinking processes, these are our best qualities although we are being misunderstood and challenged every day. Some say Autistic folks see the trees rather than the forest, or we are ‘bottom up’ thinkers. This means that we curate bits and pieces of interesting information, and this is a unique way we contribute to society.

If you are an adult guide to one or more autistic individuals, it's important to presume competence first. Just because you don’t understand what the person is doing, it doesn’t mean it’s useless. Autistic children are naturally curious, and by staying curious ourselves, we can better understand and appreciate the strengths and perspectives of our children.

Believe that They Can First.

As parents and caregivers, it is our responsibility to believe in our autistic children before they believe in themselves. When our children look into our eyes, they should see the unwavering belief and support we have for them. This is crucial because the world can be unkind, and our autistic children may already feel sad, rejected, or misunderstood.

Creating an environment of radical acceptance at home is essential. Every day, at every moment, our love and acceptance should be unconditional. When the world and everyone seems unkind, I hope autistic people have a home to come home to. This deep sense of belief and acceptance can provide a strong foundation for them to develop confidence and self-advocacy skills as they navigate the world.

As parents and caregivers, it is also important to encourage and nurture special interests. These interests serve as vehicles for them to have a safe zone, learn to problem solve, and share their passion with others.

The Power of Experiences.

When I was growing up, there weren't as many resources or therapies available for autistic individuals as there are today. However, my parents understood the importance of allowing me to experience life fully. They took us everywhere and provided support after school, helping with homework, and finding tutors when needed.

Instead of punishment or bribery, my parents understood that failure was a part of my learning journey and continued to stay positive and encouraging. These experiences shaped me into the person I am today, and I believe that providing autistic children with real life experiences is crucial for their growth and development.

If you are a parent, it's important to remember that your autistic child has only one childhood. What do you want them to remember when they are an adult? Meaningful life experiences outside of school and closed rooms are so valuable. Whether it's traveling, going to work with Mom, or laughing at your burned cookies, these moments you spend together are precious.

Thank you for being here.


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