Read below for a guest post from Ron Sandison.
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” – Habakkuk 2:14
The childhood of Alix Generous was clouded by misdiagnoses and dark depression. As a baby, crowded malls caused her to cry hysterically. She was terrified by the sensation of bath water touching her fragile body and extremely sensitive to certain textures of foods. For a three-month period of time Alix chose to eat only tomato soup. She hated any clothing made of velvet. Just the thought would make her itch. Due to her hyperactive behavior and intense focus, psychiatrists misdiagnosed her as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
When Alix was six years old, her severe depression mixed with manic behavior, caused her to receive a new misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder. At age eleven, the powerful antipsychotic medication Risperdal caused Alix’s jaw to lock and L-Dopa medications caused her to have hallucinations and other side effects. Alix shares, “The heavy medications I received as a child have caused me to have a difficult time recalling events of my life before age ten.”
While Alix rode on the school bus in middle school, a young man bullied and sexually assaulted her. Shortly later, Alix’s parents sent her for two years to a special treatment school in Provo, Utah. This school kept Alix on a strict schedule; when she refused to shower her first night there the staff stayed up with her until she showered and then made her wakeup at 6:45 am. After finishing the program in Utah, she attended Olney Friends School a Quaker boarding school in Ohio, from age fifteen until she graduated at seventeen.
Alix describes her depression, “When you are depressed you don’t feel things as they are—you have a block. Depression causes some people to want to stay in bed all day and accomplish nothing, but I made a conscious decision based on who I wanted to be rather than what I felt like. I decided to arise from my bed and fulfill my dreams. This act of choice over feelings and emotions enabled me to discover the world around me.”
As a child and young adult, Alix had a great love for music and animals. She could name every major musical from the late 18th century, when they originated, to the 1980s, and Alix taught herself to play the piano from hearing musicals. When she experienced anxiety and depression, music and riding horses helped her feel peace. Alix currently relaxes by wearing her onesie and watching Netflix with her cat, Pooshka, and Chauncey, her autism service dog.
The turning point in Alix’s life occurred when she was twelve years old and was correctly diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Alix states, “Life finally began to make sense, and I understood the way my brain processes information differently and the reason for my social awkwardness. My mind moves a thousand miles an hour. And in a split second, I’ll have an idea that’s three or four conversations ahead of where everyone else is, and I share it. I’ve been told that I use technical and, at times, overly formal vocabulary in every day conversations. It’s how my mind thinks.”
As Raymond B. Fosdick, who served as President of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1936-1948, proclaimed, “It is always the minorities that hold the key of progress; it is always through those who are unafraid to be different that advance comes to human society.”
In her TEDx talk Alix noted, “This world is in desperate need of creative and intellectual minds to solve complex problems. But before we can do that, we need to build a culture that accepts mental diversity.”
Through perseverance and dedication, Alix has learned to harness her beautiful mind, and at twenty-two years old, she has accomplished more than many people do in a lifetime. Alix has made a significant contribution to science, delivered a TED talk, and two TEDx talks. When Alix was nineteen, she won a research competition for her scientific work in quorum sensing and coral reefs, which she presented to the United Nations in the fall of 2012. She is one of the founders of the company, AutismSees, which provides online tools to equip individuals with autism to learn social skills and resources for employment.
When one listens to Alix’s TED talk, one is amazed by her graceful sense of humor. “You might have noticed that my voice doesn’t have much inflection,” she shared with a TED Woman’s audience. “People say I sound like a GPS, and this can make basic communications a challenge,” she grins and says, “Unless you need directions.”
Alix encourages her audiences, “The world does not need more intelligent people; it just needs people who are kinder and willing to listen.”
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of America.Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and Charisma House is publishing his book on 4/5/16, A Concise Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom. He has over 10,000 Scriptures memorized including 22 complete books of the New Testament. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with their pet rabbit, Babs, and cat, Frishma. You can contact Ron on Facebook or email him.