Fanning the Flame
There was a time, long ago, when our distant ancestors saw fire as something negative and destructive, a force to be feared.
It never occurred to them that this force actually held vast potential, the power to transform our destiny as a species; only over time did we learn to set aside our fears and try to understand this phenomenon, to see it not as a threat but as something extraordinary.
Fast forward several ice ages, multiple steps in our evolutionary journey, and an industrial revolution, and we again found ourselves contemplating a force beyond our understanding. This time, it was one of our own nature.
It was not a new phenomenon, just as fire was not new to our primitive forebears who fled from it in terror. But the emerging science of psychology had dragged it out into the open, and like those early hominids, we reacted impulsively.
What we thought we saw was a disease that destroyed the minds of our children and left them unable to function properly in society. We thought with our adrenal glands, and let fear cloud our perceptions of this condition we dubbed Autism.
Then, over the following decades, ancient history began to repeat itself. We started to look beyond the surface and realize that Autism also held hidden potential. That these individuals were not defective or inferior, but simply had a different way of thinking, one with its own advantages and intrinsic value.
We started to see that within every Autistic burns an incandescent spark, and that instead of trying to stamp it out, we should fan this flame so that it and therefore its owner flourishes.
Throughout my life, I have been lucky enough to have had many people; family, friends, teachers, who fanned the flame within me so that I grew up to become an empowered Autistic adult.
There is still a great deal of fear and misunderstanding surrounding Autism. But we are gradually learning, as our ancestors did, that even things which appear frightening and harmful at first can be marvels in disguise.