Perception becomes reality, because it is what we believe. Our perception shapes how we react to a situation. The fight or flight response is an example of viewing a situation which then causes inappropriate reactions. A person will feel anxiety for a reason no one else can perceive. Their perception becomes reality to that person experiencing the distress. The reality of how we deal with differences is based on perception. If we perceive a person with a disability like autism or pervasive developmental delays, has a limited ability, then we will construct that reality, which in turns generates an outcome.
When I began working with children with autism and PDD over 20 years ago, I acted upon my training in traditional education, and a limited knowledge base about special needs students. My teaching was based on repetition and review, which was considered “best practices”. It appeared like teaching, but I soon realized I was bored, and when I looked deeper, I realized my students were uninterested too. They were unresponsive, not because it was a characteristic of autism, but because teaching was monotonous and uninspired.
What I soon realized was my perception needed to change. I began to engage more with students; I conversed more, played more, laughed more, and most importantly expected more. And something amazing began to occur, how I was acting was changing the way the students perceived themselves.
After twenty years, there have been more success stories than I ever imagined. And that’s what fuels a different way of thinking. The inspiration for The Center for Autism stems from 20 years of listening, learning, and shedding tears with families and children who have unique challenges.