Bees are really extraordinary creatures. Sure they can sting you, but they also make honey. They buzz around pollinating flowers and fruits with tiny wings that shouldn’t be able to support their body weight. They shouldn’t be able to fly, but they do it every day. Bees also live in colonies. They work together to achieve a common goal. You might be thinking this seems like a bunch of random facts about bees. Shouldn’t I be telling you something about autism?
Funny you should ask.
With spring hopefully just around the corner, I have been wondering when the bees will return. Sometimes I sit and watch bees buzzing about my flower beds when I am outside on warm spring days. I noticed that much like me and my fellow autistics, bees are really focused on one particular thing. They have to pollinate. Just like many of us on the spectrum, they are seemingly fixated on their task.
Autistics often like to focus on a particular topic and spend time learning and talking about it and nothing else. Whether it be movies, history or any infinite number of topics, we like to fixate on things we are drawn to.
That little buzzing sound you hear on a warm summer day as you lay by the pool? It can strike fear in the hearts of many outdoor lovers. The buzzing reminds me of stimming. Many children and adults with autism have stimming behaviors. Stimming is defined as a repetitive behavior. This can be anything from hand flapping to making noises. The buzzing sound bees make is a sound that repeats, just like a stimming behavior. It’s part of their nature and way of being.
Bees are utterly amazing.
Without bees the world would be missing out on fruits, vegetables and flowers. Flowers bring beauty, life and color to our planet. Without bees, the world would be dreary and gray. We would lack important sources of food if bees stopped being bees. The world needs bees. The world also needs people on the autism spectrum. People with autism spectrum disorders provide an endless well of knowledge and creativity the world would most assuredly miss if we all disappeared one day. We have access to information, via our amazing brains that other brain types just don’t. And that thing about focusing? It means that we can stay on tasks very intensely for long periods of time.
Society needs us just like it needs bees.
Imagine what the autistic community could achieve with the proper training and education. Imagine what we could accomplish with the acceptance of those around us, our communities, and the world. Instead of trying to cure autism or fit autistic individuals into a specific boxed-in category, why don’t we teach acceptance?
Let’s dig deep and find out what every individual in the autistic community can offer the world. I frequently tell my three daughters to be a bee. Anatomically, bees shouldn’t be able to fly. Their tiny wings shouldn’t be able to support their body weight. Yet every spring, bees do exactly the opposite of what doesn’t seem possible. They fly.
Let this generation of autistic children be bees. Let them be trailblazers, inventors, leaders. Stop the talk about what they can’t achieve. Tell them they can fly!
If you liked this essay, you may also like: