“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
On a regular school day, my autistic student and I were sitting when he asked me about which superpowers I’d choose to have. My instant reply was “I want to read people’s emotions” to which he turned and looked at me with surprise. “What? Anyone can do that. You just look at their faces?” As simple as this reply sounded, it really highlighted one of the important factors that autism presses negatively on the people diagnosed with it. The inability/difficulty to read the non-verbal cues that could only be done through a complex process in the brain that scans the mood of the environment, analyze the social setting and use different aspects to determine the reality of any given situation. I continued explaining “That’s not true. Just because I am smiling doesn’t mean I am not sad inside.” “Yeah, you’re right. Like you are happy but inside your head you are sad maybe because someone died.” Death? A realistic, tangible scene that endorses such unpleasant emotions inside a person. This again is something sensed through the mourning ceremony, change of the ambiance of an environment or even just the change in clothing color (wearing black). Obvious and clear! It is almost a public prompt on what to feel. Yet we, the mainstream, know that not everything is seen with the eyes. We have that insight vision that enables to determine beyond what the situation presents itself as. This is a bless that I never thought was even considered a blessing. This is a great reminder to use that innate power of finding what is beneath the surface. Now I try to always look at the bigger picture by scanning what I see with my eyes and sense with my heart. Truly, this small incident has a big impact on my journey of personal development that started since I taught these students who embody a different approach in life that when appreciated could create wonders.