I had a presentation yesterday in Hannibal, Missouri and was asked a question that I thought was awesome. Another person the spectrum asked me, "What is Autism to you?" and after answering the question for three minutes politician style (that is, answering without answering) I came up with an answer that simply said, "Autism is." Today I want to expand on that answer. When I say autism I am referring to the autism spectrum disorder, I have Asperger Syndrome, but to make it easier I will simply state autism in this entry.
Autism is a blessing. I can do things in my mind that I thought everyone could do, but was shocked when I found out they couldn't. "You can't see pictures or movies of your life in your mind?" was a question I became fixated on at the age of 12 in school. That was one of many questions like that.
Autism is a challenge. I can't do some things in my mind that most everyone else does. Simple tasks such as calling a store to see if they have something in stock, or small chit-chat such as a simple "hello" proves to be a challenge for me.
Autism is a blessing. I can be perfectly content to stay alone and perhaps read, or color my magazine covers (best sensory feeling ever!) for hours on end.
Autism is a challenge. There are times that I wonder what a life of socializing is like. "What's life like out there?" I ask myself. I don't wonder this all the time, but perhaps once or twice a month I will ponder what a life without autism is like.
Autism is a blessing. When I put my mind to something it becomes the only thing that matters. It may be to the exclusion of other thoughts, but when something needs to be done, or thought of, the task at hand becomes the only thought and for those of us on the spectrum in the workplace this is a total blessing because the workplace is competitive, but we're able to go that extra 3 or 4 percent on a task that sets us apart.
Autism is a challenge. When I put my mind to something it becomes the only thing that matters. Friends, relationships, and food may be forgotten about. I don't mean to do this, but it just sort of happens. Time flies when one is having fun, right? It's sort of like that. I become so fixated. I experience a sense of freeness within. Whatever I am thinking about, it is like time, on the outside stops. I don't notice the passage of time, or the hunger pains in my stomach, all I think about, and perhaps care about in that time frame, is whatever it is that I am fixated on.
Autism is a blessing and a challenge. It is something that I must live with and for every negative I can find a positive. I often get asked if I am sad that I am on the autism spectrum, and I say, "Most certainly not. Yes, it is a blessing and a challenge, but most of the time I only experience the blessings and most of the time I only experience the challenges. I would not be me without it. While I don't let it define me, it most certainly is a big part of me. So no, I am not sad about it, because for me autism is a challenge, but I like a challenge so autism is a huge blessing that I would not trade away."
Yes, there are challenges, but the more I understood the challenges within myself, and the more the people around me understood the challenges the easier life has become. That's why I write and why I use my ultimate blessing as much as I do. Understanding what the challenges are is vital because, before I started writing, I would not tell you if something was hard for me.
I hope I explained this better today than I did yesterday at my presentation.