If you know anything about autism spectrum disorders, you know that kids and adults who are on the spectrum often have a hard time connecting, making eye contact, having a conversation, etc. They often have 'different' ways of connecting.
For example, Luca is trying to connect and runs up to total strangers and semi shouts 'I am Luca and I'm four and a half years old!'. To me, I'm thrilled that he's putting forth this effort. And the best part is he likes to pick the person who looks the busiest. He chooses the person typing on their phone, or one lost in a book. Initially the person on the receiving end is a little startled and sometimes put off. But when they see his face and hear his voice, they soften, smile and engage with him.
Yesterday on our road trip we stopped at a Denny's for breakfast. He immediately told the waitress his name, age and favorite color. He then added the colors he does and doesn't like. She immediately smiled and took the time to chat with him. Every time she came to the table he had something else to tell her. By the end of the meal, she was so touched by Luca that she asked him for a hug, which he willingly gave! It brought tears to my eyes because she had no idea that Luca is autistic. She only saw a little boy who needed to connect and wanted to share.
My lesson for you is this... We all have the desire to connect at some level. We want to be liked, appreciated, accepted and praised. The problem lies in our perception. The way I connect looks totally different from the way Luca connects. And some of us even use things like manipulation, jealousy, excuses and anger to connect. Those thoughts and emotions are hovering over our need to connect, so we lash out or yell because we've piled fear on our need to connect. That fear comes from all the times that our need to connect has been dismissed, or our expectations have not been met, or our connection has led to hurt. So again, the problem is our perception. The next time someone yells, or strikes up an awkward conversation, or stops you in the midst of your busy day to tell you their favorite color. Recognize that they are simply trying to connect. And take the time to listen, to engage and to be open to new ways of creating friendships and trust. You never know how much that person on the other end really needs to feel your attention, your energy. And you never know how much it could help transform not just their life, but yours as well.
So get out there and connect. Start by listening to kids when they are sharing their wisdom. And remember to listen to your heart and when you need help, ask for it! And ps. If you ever find yourself at Denny's next to Tahiti Village in Las Vegas. Ask for Elizabeth, she's fantastic! #autismawesomeness #connect #EVOL #EVOLution #lifeisgood #luca