I love this quote.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” –Albert Einstein

Does it resonate with you?

For me, it is a reminder to celebrate each person’s unique abilities. I love to discover the strengths of people especially those with ASD. However, our society has a tendency to focus on the difficulties of each individual. I have witnessed the unfortunate side effect of the emphasis on one’s challenges. People have no idea what they are good at, only what is difficult, just as Einstein describes.

That is not to say that challenge itself is a bad thing. When we stop learning and growing we stagnate. Life becomes less enjoyable. Challenges help us move out of a rut. I think it is important to make sure we define ourselves according to our abilities, not our disabilities.

This can be difficult when the disabilities have to be emphasized in order to receive support. In the ASD support community we can get lost in the challenges of eye contact, conversation, and social niceties to provide support to autistic individuals who have strong talents in observation of details, focus, and loyalty, among many other skills. Unfortunately, while we are working on challenges we don’t do enough to embrace the skills, and discovering these talents are one key to encouraging independence.   After all, people usually find jobs in their areas of strength. There is a sense of pride in what one can do well.

Let’s listen and encourage. Fish should celebrate that they can swim.

Rebecca J. Weaver is a Certified Autism Specialist at Independent with Autism, working to empower individuals with ASD. Need help creating your success strategies? Check out IndependentwithAutism.com for more information.