Brick by Brick
My brother David who has autism is one of the most caring and sweet people you will ever meet. Many people are surprised at this because they think that having autism means that you don’t show much emotion, or that you keep to yourself. In reality, David loves being around people and he wears his heart on his sleeve, so it’s usually pretty easy to see how he’s feeling (and why). Part of this is because he doesn’t guard his emotions, and you know what? I really admire that.
Openly showing emotion is often seen as a weakness. While it’s true that there are limits, overall I think it’s a strength to have the confidence to let your guard down. You aren’t afraid to have people see you as you really are in that moment. It also means that you can receive the love and support that you need from the people that you love.
When I was younger, if I was really upset, my brother would sometimes come to me and give me a big hug. As much as I fought it, I couldn’t help but smile when he would say “Don’t be upset, Katherine! Be happy!” Those words were all his own, and during those times they were frustratingly comforting. More often than not, we put up walls because of fear, or stubbornness. It’s interesting – we have these walls so they can guard us from getting hurt, or to stop people from seeing how we really feel. Many create barriers out of choice, yet the most powerful ones can be created totally subconsciously. But here’s the thing – what if we tried to recognize our walls and dismantle them? I’m not saying we should try smashing our protection systems with bulldozers, but if we took things one brick, one little chip at a time, we could accomplish quite a lot, couldn’t we?
In the spirit of Autism Awareness Month, I’m making it a goal to let my guard down a little bit, and I’m challenging you to do the same. Do you know why I like this goal? It’s open, and it takes on a new meaning for each person. It also changes to fit different situations. It doesn’t mean that you have to share your thoughts on a talk show or discuss your deepest feelings with a random person on the street. It means “break down your walls one little brick at a time,” and enjoy the sweet freedom it gives.
Post by: Katherine Meikle, FLVS Student
Katherine Meikle, a Florida Virtual School student since Spring of 2010, is the founder and editor of the Student Ambassador Club newsletter, The Embassy. She has earned hundreds of community service hours and has been involved in numerous events, including FLVS Literacy Week, World Fest and the Shakespeare Festival. Katherine co-wrote and performed in the “Hero” breakout session at the 2012 Momentum Staff Conference and is proud to have organized the Club Day 2013 “Help for Hope” donation drive at FLVS. When not studying she loves to cook and to spend time in the great outdoors (well, gardening in her backyard, anyway).