CNY Autism Consulting Helping Those on the Autism Spectrum Live Successful Lives Paul Meier  315-559-8242 Philosophy “That is not a Duck” I have had several people look at the rubber ducks in my office, see the chicken, and stop mid-sentence saying: “That is not a duck!”  This is exactly why I bought the chicken.  It is not a duck, and I have a point to make. I illustrate the world as a duck pond with all the rubber ducks.  Those of us on the autism spectrum are the chicken.  The chicken is sort of like a duck.  The chicken can pretend it is a duck.  However, everyone looks and says: “That is not a duck!” Ducks swim, and quack, and waddle, and give it absolutely no thought.  They are ducks.  It is what they do.  The worst duck will do these things far better than the most skilled hardest working chicken trying to look like a duck.  A chicken that can manage to keep its beak above water, give a sad little half quack, and sort of waddle in line is really impressive for a chicken.  It is really sad for a duck. I will sometimes try to convince kids that my little chicken is a duck.  None of them buy it.  On the autism spectrum we as chickens can insist to all the ducks around us that we are just another duck, and pretend to be a duck.  It doesn’t work.  Even the most skilled and experienced of us with autism are distinctly different, and the world has no trouble saying:  “That is not a duck!”  This leads us to a choice.  We can be a bad duck, or we can be a good chicken.  My vote is for good chicken. I try to help those I work with to embrace who they are.  They are on the autism spectrum learning to function in a world not set up for autism.  If those of us with autism could make the rules for the way the world worked we would be fine.  Everyone else would be in therapy.  However with autism we are in the minority and do not get to make the rules for how the world works.  We are the chicken living in the duck pond. Those who become the most successful chickens living in the duck pond will willingly say:  “Yes I am a chicken, and that makes it tough to swim and quack, but let me show you what I can do because I am a chicken.”  Or with autism say:  “Yes I am on the autism spectrum, and that poses some challenges living in a world where most people are not like me.  But, I am okay with that, and offer a lot to the world by being true to who I am.” Instead of trying to be a bad duck, pretending everything is fine as we are struggling to keep our beak above water, we should be true to who we are and be a really great chicken, offering a lot to the world by being who we are, and not trying be like everyone else.  It is by viewing the world differently, and embracing that unique perspective, we can be successful chickens and make a difference in the duck pond.