Shifting Preconceived Notions About Autism and Suicide October 24, 2014 • 0 Comments Last week, I attended two functions, which means I left the house. I used to be more of the going-out type, but have become, without really noticing, a bit of a hermit. I enjoyed myself and realized I need to get out more often because I love learning new things and meeting new people. Time to rebuild my social-interaction stamina. These events were independent of each other, yet had a common thread. The first was an evening devoted to raising funds for TERI, an organization supporting over six-hundred families with children and adults who have autism and special needs. Approximately eight-hundred folks were in attendance, drawn in to hear renowned journalist and speaker Ron Suskind tell his journey through autism with his son, Owen. A few nights later, I attended a Zac Brown concert with my friend, who happens to be a big fan of his. I had never heard of him and laughed all the way down to the amphitheater about the fact that I was going to a country music venue. I was in for a surprise, and now count myself as a fan of the band. Towards the end of the night, Zac announced that a dollar of every ticket sale to his concerts over the last two years has been donated to Camp Southern Ground, a facility to be built for children to overcome social, academic and emotional difficulties. Because I find meaning in just about everything these days, I was struck by the fact that I attended two events within days of each other supporting a common cause, and I love the fact that my heart and mind were opened to things I had not previously considered. Isn’t it amazing how much we can miss when we aren’t paying attention or live in the confines of false assumptions? I learned that people with autism have rich, deep inner lives, a stark contrast to my uneducated, one-dimensional view that they simply lacked emotions, and had odd obsessions. I have also never given thought to the fact that many will need care for their entire life, and this is where amazing organizations like TERI come in. “Many children on the autism spectrum develop affinities, or what we might call obsessions. They focus on things like train schedules, maps, baseball scores, video games, or, in the case of Owen Suskind, the subject of his father, Ron Suskind’s, new book, Life, Animated, classic Disney movies. We could also call these ‘affinities’ passions.” From “A Pathway, Not a Prison” Hanna Rosin, Slate.com Suskind explained in his talk that “affinities” are now being considered pathways into the minds of those with autism, which I would imagine must be incredibly encouraging for parents. In the past, these obsessions have been treated as limitations. I had the opportunity to speak to a family whose son has autism and in sharing our stories I discovered that although we are experiencing very different lives on the outside, we are living in a similar place emotionally. They shared the isolation and loneliness they felt when their son was younger, and frustration with the way the outside world treats them based on incorrect assumptions about their situation. Standing in front of them and acknowledging that I was one of those people was quite humbling. Understanding this is what I face with misconceptions about suicide was revelatory. There is no doubt that the world is inextricably interconnected via technology, but our connectedness goes so much deeper than that. The emotional commonalities of our experiences link us together in remarkable ways. If we were to begin living from this understanding, I can’t help but wonder how much better off we might be. Have you had an eye-opening experience that shifted a misguided belief for the better? Please share — I’d love to hear about it. Sending love and light, -db Who is Dianna Bonny? Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.