Tag Archives | different

Everyone has their own heart song

happy feet - mumbleIn 2006, a cute little movie came out that spawned a lot of fascination towards penguins. Granted, not many other movies or documentaries featured them singing and/or dancing. Still, Happy Feet went on to have enough success as to earn a sequel.

Since we haven’t watched it in my house in a while, I thought I’d put it on again for my boys, who are now 7 (Cameron) and just about to turn 5 (Tyler).

Right at the beginning of the movie, when little Mumble (the star of the show) is born, he starts to dance. He says he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he just can’t stop. His feet are happy.

This amuses my boys to no end and they get up and start dancing… er… well, what they call dancing. I’m sure my neighbor downstairs didn’t think it was dancing.

The movie very quickly went from happy to sad though, as all the other children began to sing, quite beautifully, while poor Mumble sounded terrible.

As Mumble failed and failed again to sing, his parents had this conversation:

Dad: It just ain’t penguin, ok?
Mom: So what if he’s a little different? I’ve always kinda liked different.
Dad: He’s not different. He’s a regular emperor penguin!

Are you starting to see why this movie is the subject of a blog post on an autism blog?

So while I sat there, watching this movie and thinking how familiar it all sounds and feels, it hit full force as the very last lines were narrated to close out the scene of Mumble’s childhood:

Pay no mind to his dancing heart. The kid saw out his school days at the back of the class, lost in his imaginings.
What fabulous worlds lay out there, far beyond the ice?
Was there any place where one small penguin without a heart song could ever truly belong?

It was at this point when Cameron looked at me, quite seriously, and said “He’s sad because he doesn’t have a heart song, right?”

What do you say to a child when you know that he’s asking because he feels like he is that penguin? Does he feel like that penguin? Has he drawn the same similarities I have? Is he really even following along that closely? Maybe he’s just curious like any other child would be? Am I the one that is putting too much of our life into what I’m seeing in this movie?

This is what I told him:

Cameron, he does have a heart song. Everyone has a heart song. A heart song is something in your heart that only you can hear. Those penguins, when they hear it, they’re able to get it out and express it through singing. That’s how they share their heart song with the world.

But little Mumble, he’s not able to sing. For what ever reason, he just can’t. And so his heart song comes out another way, through his feet. He dances. And he dances better than anyone else.

When you hear the music in the movie, but don’t see anyone around playing the music on guitars or drums, what you’re actually hearing is the heart song in that penguin’s heart. So when he’s dancing, he’s dancing to his heart song.

At this point, Cameron asked about us. “Do people have heart songs?”

I explained:

Yes, sort of. But it’s not always music. Some people are really good at drawing, cooking, running really fast, playing video games… we all have something that we love to do and we are very good at it.

That’s our heart song.

If someone really loves music and is really good at it, then perhaps they really do have a heart song. But if someone really loves riding horses and is really good at it, then that is their heart song… only it’s not exactly a song.

We all have one. No matter how different we may think we are or how much anyone else thinks we are, we each have a heart song. And it doesn’t matter if it comes out through our feet and people think it’s weird, so long as it comes out.

Because our heart song is important.

Sure enough, later in the movie, as Mumble ventured out and eventually found the aliens (humans), he failed at being able to communicate with them… that is, until he danced.

So I told Cameron “look, he can communicate with them now.”

Cameron looked at me and asked “What does “communicate” mean?”

Again, I explained to him:

Well, communicating is the way in which we tell each other something. Like, me talking to you. But it’s not always talking. Like, when you see a smile, you know someone’s happy. Or you see someone crying, you know they’re sad. They are “communicating” that to you.

In this case, Mumble was talking but those people don’t understand Penguin talk, so they weren’t communicating very well. They didn’t understand each other. But once Mumble started to dance, and the people all gathered round, they were communicating.

At which point Cameron asked: “So his heart song is how he communicates?”

Yes!! He gets it!

And sure enough, as the movie played on and the humans followed him back to the penguin home land and they all started to dance, he started to see how that one little dancing penguin wasn’t so “different” after all. That what made him different made him very special.

If it wasn’t for his dancing, he never would have found the humans, or communicated with them, and they would have ran out of food.

So no matter how different or weird or “not penguin” it is to find your heart song and to let it out, you have to do it anyway.

We all have one. And it’s special.

It needs to be shared with the world.

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Humans are social beings. So if you’re not social, what are you?

Taken from Wikipedia:

Humans are social beings. In comparisons with animalia, humans are regarded like the primates for their social qualities. But beyond any other creature, humans are adept at utilizing systems of communication for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organization, and as such have created complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups. Human groups range from families to nations. Social interactions between humans have established an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which together form the basis of human society.

This makes me wonder… what about the people who are not adept at utilizing those systems of communication for self-expression? Is this why some people instinctively see special needs people as less than human somehow? Is this why, when a person is unable to use those systems, to communicate or demonstrate self-expression, they are thought to be “in their own world?”

It sounds a little harsh, to think that, if a person isn’t social, that society would view them as “less than human”… but really, this shouldn’t be new to anyone. Aristotle thought this way too.

“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ” 
― Aristotle

Granted, he included the “more than human” but that’s likely in reference to the savants or prodigies that lock themselves away to work tirelessly on what ever it is that they do.

I mean… a beast or a god? Really?

how to win friends

No wonder this sells so well!

Says Who?

Personally, I have always questioned: If everyone is different, why would everyone have to have friends?

Think about it. Every single person is different. All seven billion. And yet poets and story tellers continue to tell you that everyone needs someone to love and everyone has to have friends.

Why?

Why can’t a person be ok with not having friends? Where did the term “hermit” come from if there aren’t people out there who prefer to be left alone?

Feeling Lonely

Everyone feels lonely sometimes. People that have more friends than they can count can feel lonely sometimes. Is it more likely for a person that has no friends? Sure, but perhaps there’s a reason for that besides the fact that they are alone.

Think about it… why would a person who prefers to be alone be lonely because they are alone? It doesn’t make sense.

In my past, when I had no friends because I was working so hard, I felt very lonely and very depressed. But it wasn’t because I had no friends.

I felt that way because I was conditioned to. Every poem or story I read, every movie I saw, every person I talked to would tell me that I had to have friends…. more so, I had to have love.

Not one person or piece of entertainment told me that it was ok to be alone. In the movies, the hermits would eventually find a family or a place to live and “finally be happy” with others. The others would either eventually commit suicide or “remain alone for the rest of their days”…  ugh.

Be Yourself

Other than highschool peers, people will tell you to be yourself. That you’re unique. You’re different. There isn’t another person out there like you.

But you have to have friends, like everyone else, because everyone else does… or else you’re “beneath our notice”.

It’s very contradicting and it’s very belittling and it’s very confusing.

Sure, a lot of people without friends do not choose for it to be that way and therefore, have every right to feel lonely and a little down. But some people want to be that way… they eventually find themselves depressed and aren’t sure why.

In either case, don’t listen to Aristotle… don’t listen to the media, entertainment or poets… it’s ok to have no friends. It might be temporary. It might not. Depending on what you want.

But be yourself.

Who knows, you may think you want to be alone only to find that you really don’t… once you are confident enough to be yourself… confidence attracts… friends!

But you are still very much human, friends or not… love or not. Want it, don’t want it… it doesn’t matter, just so long as you are yourself. Friends and love, they’re out there. I won’t think any less of you for wanting them or not wanting them.

You don’t have to have friends to be happy but it certainly helps to be happy if you want to have friends.

So either way… be happy for being you.

Comments { 13 }

A holiday message from an Autism Father

Autism

You are reading this post, which tells me that we have something in common. Autism. Whether you have a child with Autism, you are autistic, you have a loved one with Autism or you’re simply interested in learning more about Autism (I most especially welcome the last group!)… we have that common bond. It makes us a part of a community, a supportive group, fellow advice gurus and even, if we take the chance… friends.

Rather than write an advice piece on ways to make Christmas easier or give tips on what to do and not do to avoid meltdowns (I do have one of those half written but I may just save it for next year), I thought I’d rather write about something else.

You see, whether it’s Christmas that you’re celebrating, some other holiday or the fact that it’ll be a Sunday… one common thing we all do is share with each other. We give of ourselves and share with each other and just be together, grateful for what we have and who we have with us.

And it makes me think… for those of us that have Autism in our lives, in some form or another, we have that… all year round. We don’t even know each other personally (most of us), but we have that.

I’ve learned something new from each and every person, I’ve agreed and disagreed with every single person and over the years, I’ve come to realize something important…

Epiphany

I’ve come to realize that Autism isn’t about being different, it’s about being yourself.

Whether you
have Autism (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngzyhnkT_jY),
you’re homeless (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DXL9vIUbWg),
you have no arms or legs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3LFBqvvW-M)
or if you know that you are dying (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo)
you are awesome (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vo0Cazxj_yc).

Rejoice in who you are and those you have with you. Not in how different they are, not in how similar you are… but in who you are… and who they are. They wouldn’t be who they are without you just the same as you being you because you have them in your life. And more so than that, you wish for them to be themselves, the person you like, just the same as it is their wish for you to be yourself, the person that they like.

No person is “normal” any more than they are “different”. We all are what we are and there is no comparison to be made since there is no other you.

So pay no attention to what others think of you for it is none of your business. Nor is it any of their business what you think of them so keep it to yourself, unless it’s a truly wonderful thing to share. While it should not affect how they think of themselves, it can’t hurt to receive a nice compliment.

Be yourself, not different, not the same, not what you think others wish you to be… just be you. And respect those that do the same for themselves. You don’t have to like them, but respect them for being true to themselves because that is all you would ask in return.

Being me

I write what I want to write, I say what I want to say. I choose to advocate for my son and for all of Autism as well. I choose to do my utmost best because it is who I am.

And I appreciate and celebrate each and every person that comments, likes, shares and even just reads… not because of what you think of me, but because you are you.

So what ever it is that you’re celebrating, I wish you well. I wish you happiness. I wish you all the best. Because it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do… so long as you are the best you that you can be and you do your best at what you do.

Thank you.

all I want for Christmas is you

Comments { 5 }

That could apply to anyone

I can’t even begin to count the number of times that one of my statements or posts were responded to with “actually, that could apply to anyone” or something along those lines.

Some of my favourites:

  • That could apply to all parents
  • That could apply to any child
  • That could apply to any group of people
  • All people should do that
  • Everyone would be better off thinking that way

Why does it bother me so much?

For the first hundred times or so, those responses rather bothered me because this blog isn’t about most people… my twitter account is not about humans in general. I focus on Autism and that’s what I write about.

It also reminds me of all of the times where I’ve tried to explain the ways Autism affects my child where people would respond with “but that’s something a lot of children do” or “ya but that could just be a phase.”

It’s not exactly a closed minded response but in the moment, to a parent with child that has Autism, it can feel like it. You just want to grab them by the collar and say “You’re not listening to me!” Well, ok, maybe not to that extreme but it is frustrating.

For a while, it got on my nerves, making me want to reply to them… explain that the world isn’t my focus, Autism is… but after the first hundred times or so, I started to like hearing it.

dare to be differentIt does apply to anyone!

The truth is that people say that because the things I share really do apply to all parenting, to all children and to all others in general.

Parenting methods, children being children…. almost all of any of the things that we can talk or write about in regards to Autism truly does tend to apply to anyone. We all know that, it’s not the individual “quirks”, it’s the amount of quirks and severity of those quirks which indicate the presence of Autism.

I say “quirks” because when it’s not Autism, that’s what they are.. quirks. Right? A stimming behavior without the communication impairment, social issues or other symptoms is simply a quirk.

So when I write about routines, methods to improve behavior, general observations about how people are, parents are, autistics are… the truth is, 99 times out of 100, those things could apply to everyone.

And that’s a good thing… because autistics are everyone. “Different, not less” is right but at the same time, everyone is different. And if everyone is different, then we’re all the same too. Our differences don’t divide us… they unite us.

So yes, it still bugs me still… in a way, because I didn’t call my website “EVERYONE from a father’s point of view”… so I’m not going to write about everyone. But at the same time, in a way, it brings me comfort that the things I say about Autism and autistics really could apply to everyone.

Every time someone says that, I’m reminded once again that maybe autistics aren’t quite so different after all.

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Paint your own Autism picture

One thing that happens to me a lot, and I see this happen to others quite often around the internet as well, is that I’ll make a statement and quickly be corrected… sometimes I’m even told what to say.

For example, when I say on Twitter that Autism is neither a gift nor a curse, there’s usually someone that feels the need to correct me.  When I compare Autism to a rainbow, even making sure to include the stormy aspects… I’ve had people be downright mad that I’d compare it to something wonderful. Because to them, Autism is anything but.

I can understand that, to a point. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to tell others how they should feel about something. Especially if it’s something that affects themselves or their loved ones as well.

The Incas

I don’t know a whole lot about the Inca Empire… but I did find their art work, sculptures and other artifacts most intriguing when I saw them at the museum.

What I found most interesting, however, was that there was no one artifact or piece of art work that could tell historians or archaeologists the whole story of what life was like for the Inca people.

The only real way to truly know is to take the whole tour. You go through the Inca exhibit and see so much, you learn so much and then… even then… you wonder at what it must have truly been like. Because you still don’t know!

You get bits and pieces… lots of bits and pieces… you get theories, you get stories… and you learn so much… but you still don’t know.

Museum… internet… whatever

Today, right now, our museum is the internet. This blog, that you’re reading now, is my contribution to the Autism exhibit. It’s not the whole exhibit, it’s just a piece of artwork on the wall (not very great artwork but it’s there all the same).

And I see other people’s contributions all over the place that compliment my piece, others contradict my piece, some are a whole other category of interest from mine… perhaps theirs could be considered the artifacts to my art pieces.

The fact is, there’s a lot to see and read and experience and while it gives people a lot to go on, and may give people a lot of theories, it’s still not the whole story.

But only by us sharing, all of us, can people get closer to really knowing… to truly understanding.

paintingMy Painting

Perhaps you don’t agree with my painting on the wall… maybe you don’t have any storm clouds in the distance behind a beautiful rainbow… and that’s ok too. That doesn’t make your art work any less important to the exhibit.

It just makes it a part of the story.

While it’s true that our museum could really use a better curator to organize and make things easier to find, it’s still a very wonderful exhibit with some really touching stories and people to discover.

Correct me if you feel the need to, but that won’t stop me from painting my Autism picture the way I see it.

And I hope no one ever stops you from painting your artwork the way you see it.

The visitors to our museum depend on it.

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