Beyond Our Own Backyards… by: Kimberly Larochelle
From his book, “How to win friends and influence people”, Dale Carnegie wrote this, “Most people care more about the pimple on their backside, than in World Hunger.” Shocking statement isn’t it? However he made this statement not to make us all feel like selfish, egotistical louses, but to make a strong and clear point about how we as humans connect with things. In other words, to look beyond our own backyards and truly empathize with a person or situation, we must experience their situation, or at the very least, look at it with our own eyes and heart. Remember the old saying, “Walk a mile in my shoes…”
Recently, I had the experience of moving to another city, thus transplanting myself and my family “beyond my backyard” and beyond my beloved hometown. Even though I know well of Autism Spectrum and have written many times of the alarming statistics on a world-wide scale, I was amazed at meeting new neighbors and many new acquaintances in my new city that were personally touched by Autism Spectrum too! There has not been even a day that I have not seen a puzzle-piece ribbon bumper sticker, a business card promoting an Autism Support Group, a parent struggling with their child of the spectrum in a store, or even meeting a new neighbor and her little boy affected with ASD.
In my mind of course, I knew this was the situation everywhere and the prevalence of ASD is in “Everyone’s Backyard”, nevertheless, I have seen beyond to other backyards with my own eyes, heard their heartbreaking stories with my own ears, and thus have been affected with their situations in my own heart as well. The horizon is far, it is wide, and it is endless! May it never be the case that we are short-sighted in our own minds and in our own hearts.
As we go on living from day to day, keep in mind that you belong to a very large group of people just like yourself. They struggle, they scream, they cry, and they search for answers just like you. The fact that we are all living in the “Information Age”, and with the Internet at our fingertips does help us to see beyond our backyards a little easier, and makes our outlook a bit broader. Keep in mind however, that while we can be benefiting others in a variety of backyards far and wide, we cannot truly sympathize with their particular situation, as we may be the same in many ways, yet different.
Understanding and empathizing with one another is something we can become experts at however, and becoming a good neighbor amidst our vast array of backyards, thus supporting in a very helpful and personal way each other, as we have “walked the mile…or two…in these shoes”, these shoes of Autism.