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Celebrating the Special Qualities of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Categories: ASD and DD, Adult-focused; ASD and DD, Child-focused




Over the past few years, numerous research studies and media reports have kept us well informed about the ever-increasing number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the many challenges they will have to deal with throughout their lives. But what about all the positive qualities and characteristics individuals with ASD exhibit on a daily basis?
 
“You will never meet a more genuine group of people,” says Jaimie Hoover, Executive Director of the May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities in Woburn, Mass. “Social norms are not a concern for them, so they will tell it like it is. Their strength of character is evident in the honest feedback they provide. Their truthfulness often helps the whole family become better communicators.
 
“They can also be very enthusiastic,” she continues. “If they have an interest in something, they are really engaged and excited about it. And when they are enthusiastic and passionate, they tend to draw other people in.”
 
In their classrooms and at their day programs, people with ASD work on social skills such as being patient and taking turns. Practicing these skills pays off when they go out into the community. “More often than not, our students are the ones waiting patiently for their pizza,” says Hoover. “It’s some of the ‘typical’ kids who are being impatient.”
 
Many individuals with ASD are very sociable and eager to be with other people. They want to help, when they are able. People with ASD often make good friends, because they care about others. When a student or program participant has a “meltdown” – a common occurrence for individuals on the spectrum – other classmates or colleagues will express concern and inquire about the person who is having an “issue” before getting on with their schoolwork or job assignment.
 
Men and women with ASD are often goal-focused and achievement-oriented, and can be excellent employees. Many are detail-oriented and take a great deal of pride in their work. Oftentimes they have good memories, are very organized, and have a strong desire to finish their work.
 
“In my experience, people who are on the spectrum are very likely to be focused and hard working, honest and enthusiastic, polite and respectful, kind and caring. Those qualities not only make them good employees, but also good friends and great people,” Hoover concludes.
 
 
Jaimie L March, B.A., is the Executive Director of the May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities in Wilmington, Mass. She can be contacted at jmarch@mayinstitute.org.
 
May Institute is an award-winning nonprofit organization with more than 60 years of experience in serving children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities, brain injury and neurobehavioral disorders, and other special needs. May Institute operates four schools for children and adolescents with ASD and other developmental disabilities, including one in Wilmington, Mass. We also provide a wide range of community-based services for adults with autism and other developmental disorders. These services include residential group homes and supported living apartments as well as day programs, vocational training, and supported employment. For more information, call 800-778-7601.