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“lt is only when we 'step into the shoes of autism' that we realize every behaviour has function and purpose” – Teresa Hedley

Often when we discuss the behaviors of those with autism, we focus on "solving" them or finding ways to mediate their effect. What's often not considered are the reasons behind these behaviors - which can be entirely rational from another perspective. There's a classic story on perspective that we often talk about in the office: in a university lecture, a professor holds a book in the air, and asks the class "What colour is this book?". The class answers "Black!". The professor denies that it's black over and over again, while the class argues that he is clearly wrong. After arguing for ten minutes, the professor turns the book, showing the students that the back of the book is, indeed, not black. It's red. 

Sometimes, it takes is seeing the other perspective of a situation to see that "reality" can often mean two completely different things. 

In the video below, Heather Hedley provides us with an example of what it takes to understand a situation from the point of view of someone who has autism. Heather is the younger sister of Erik Hedley, a teen on a spectrum, and has grown up supporting him throughout her life.  In this YouTube video of Stepping Into the Shoes of Autism, Heather uses a case study of a 14 year old boy with autism who allegedly pushed his principal and was charged with assault to demonstrate her point.  By examining the situation from the boy’s point of view, she illustrates the sequence of events that possibly led to the alleged assault and how the situation is not as black and white (or red) as it seems. 

Erik and his mother Teresa Hedley are part of a series called I Have Autism and I Need Your Help that documents their family’s experiences and lessons learned that highlight the importance of having the right support system around a person with autism.


Did you enjoy this article? See more articles in the "I Have Autism and I Need Your Help" series here:

Cultivating Believers

Cultivating Believers Part 2

Nurturing Sibling Support, Part 1

Nurturing Sibling Support, Part 2

Building my Learning Team, Part 2

Building my Learning Team, Part 1

Building Self-esteem in Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

Written by Aila Morin — January 20, 2016

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