I found this great piece on Slate.com creating two new basketball brackets for the tournament. One was team colors, the other, mascots. (My pick? The Akron Zips. Zippy the Kangaroo all the way.) What an interesting way to view the brackets!
Think about it. In order to actually win the office pool you have to pick a team to go to the final four that the rest of the pool has not chosen. If everyone picks the same final four teams, then no one person can win the pool. You have to go against the group consensus. You have to take a chance on a long shot. You may go down in flames, but it is your only chance of winning. We call this “out of the box” thinking.
In order to do that, you have to think about the bracket differently than everyone else.
That’s what our loved ones with autism do every day.
One of the most interesting and frustrating issues when working with people with autism is often the fact that they often don’t get the group consensus. What is important to the rest of us neurotypicals may just not be the important detail to our kid. Whether it is a focus on the “wrong” detail (like the fact that the book store downtown is the one with the blue door, as opposed to the store that sells books) or the inability to focus on the teacher’s voice when there is a fan spinning in the room, as parents and teachers we are often frustrated by what seems to us to be an inability to focus on the important.
Don’t get me wrong, focusing on the teacher’s voice vs the fan is probably useful. But you know, sometimes looking at the world through a slightly different prism is also useful. It is this different viewpoint that enables someone like Temple Grandin to understand cattle and design better cattle handling systems. It is this different viewpoint that discovers new cures for diseases, solves math problems, creates better video games and computer programs, paints better pictures, tells stories, expresses itself in music. It is this viewpoint that picks the long shot and wins the pool.
So, let’s remember that while it is important to help our kids navigate our world successfully, sometimes we should try to enter their world. We should try to respect their way of thinking and not always dismiss a thought process that focuses on the “unimportant”. Let’s not be rigid ourselves. Go Zips!