If you could have a superpower, what would it be? To fly? Read minds? Super
Strength? Or would you want to be invisible?
Did you know that in physics, scientists have actually come up with a fabric that can make stuff invisible? Yes, it’s true! Bending photons,or light, scientists have been able to cloak objects to make them appear invisible. The future seems to hold some magic, if you really look.
Invisibility is often used to describe autism, because there is no overt, physical difference between a child with autism and a “normal” (neurotypical) child. As a result, people not “in the know” can, and often do, misinterpret unusual behavior by a child who has autism, as simple bad behavior, bad parenting or, most often, both. This frustrates me as the parent of a child with a disability. In addition to dealing with the disability itself, I often find myself having to explain, defend or ignore the ignorant and their hostile looks and attitude.
I was thinking about the concept of invisibility today and how it affects the lives of my son and I. It actually is not always a negative concept. When I think of being invisible as a superpower, I think of making myself invisible. I could sneak in and steal the Hope Diamond or watch a concert standing on stage. I could stand on the court at the NBA playoffs, or get in anywhere and get away with it! How sneaky and fun!
But instead of making myself invisible, what if I could tune out all the noise of a crowd, or the fear of standing in front of a large group, by making others invisible? In a lot of ways, my son has this superpower. He can tune out the world and focus on where he wants to be. His world is, generally a happy place. He often focuses in his imagination (yes, I said his imagination) on racing cars, wanting to be a race car, wanting to dance, sing or be a character inside one of his favorite cartoons. He may not say the words for the ideas in his head, but it’s quite clear to me, that he has many fanciful tales going on in there, by the few exclamations and words that do come out from time to time.
He often uses “tuning out” as a mechanism to soothe himself in situations of discomfort. At school, he may not look fearful or stressed, but he will be off, somewhere else, or not responsive. He has, in those instances and, in essence, made the rest of the world invisible. It takes some time to bring him back.
What the rest of the world may see as a manifestation of a disability, I can see as a bit of a talent. A protective shield from instances of cruel behavior by others. A soothing and coping mechanism.
Maybe everyone else is disabled and my son is onto something. Focus leads to discovery; to in-depth knowledge; innovation; and genius. Making the rest of the world invisible is part of having “drive”. And is real success measured by that friendly, social guy down the street or the guy who has the superpower to make the rest of the world invisible when he needs to? I’m thinking the latter.
The superpower I would choose would be compassion. Because that is what I think it takes to make it through life – an understanding, a give and take. It saves an awful lot of resentment. Craig T. Nelson