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Monday, September 13, 2010

An Aspie's Dream

Last week I wrote about my experience being apologized to for having Asperger Syndrome. This led to a lot of emotions and it got me to thinking about the fact that I am probably not the first to have this happen to them. Furthermore, how many parents have said that their child has autism and then they were apologized to? All week I thought about this and it has inspired this:

I want everyone to know that, for the most part, I am happy. It is my dream that people learn this. I may have some challenges, but I am not defective. I don't deserve or need your pity and am happy being me.

There are times when the world tries to get me to fit in, and sometimes I try, but there are other times when a social situation may be too much for me. I have had situations in the past where I have been called weird or odd for not trying to fit in. It is my dream that the world begins to not only know about us on the autism spectrum, but begins to understand us.

We have a lot to learn from each other. I look at, sometimes completely perplexed, how two random people can have a random conversation. I know others look at me, completely perplexed, when I get excited about a random fact that I recall about auto racing or when I have the ability to learn some new obscure facts. It is my dream that the world comes to realize that socializing can be difficult the same way it would be for you to recall minute details from the 1992 Indianapolis 500. We are the same, but different.

It is my dream that I never get apologized to again. This can only come from understanding. Being on the spectrum isn't something to look down upon! Yes, it has its challenges, but it has its blessings. Each person is unique and let's cherish the uniqueness and not look down upon it. To be apologized is to tell me, or parents of a person on the spectrum, that I am defective and something is really wrong with me. In my mind an apology like this is reserved for something really horrible and I don't see it that way and I hope, and dream that, eventually, all will see this.

I dream what everyone else dreams about. I want to have a full, productive life. I want a family, a career, and the ability to live my life to the fullest. Some people seem to think that an autism label is the end and that to dream such things is a waste of time. No dream and no person is a waste of time. Yes, we may need to work harder at some things, but if we're not given a chance then how can we succeed? There is so much potential in a mind on the spectrum, but if not given the chance how can one dream of the things that I dream about?

Finally, my biggest dream is the day where the word autism doesn't draw a repulsive reaction for those who aren't affected by it. Autism has to be one of the most misunderstood conditions, but understanding is coming. I haven't had to debate someone on what autism is for quite sometime and when I say Asberger people don't think of a food item or Olympic venue (sad, but true!). Everything in this world started as a dream, and my dream was already started by countless thousands of people before me and I hope I can do my part in fulfilling it. I know I am not alone in my dream and all of us can do some part in educating some one, whether it is a school, politicians, or a random person in a grocery store. I feel the world is listening and is open to learning about us. In all reality there isn't that much that separates us; we're all people, we all have dreams, and for us on the spectrum we just have different traits. We have feelings, we can be scared, and most of all we just want to be understood. This is my dream.

9 comments:

  1. Thank you so much.

    I'm printing this for my son when he's a little older.

    Here's my attempt to circumvent the apologies.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HwDXoHnVxY

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  2. Aaron, I am betting that the woman who said, "I'm sorry." didn't really mean that. She probably had no way to say..

    "Wow! Everything I have heard about the autism spectrum leads me to believe it is a hard life to lead. I can't imagine having it. I can't imagine not being 'normal' like me. Some of the activities I take for granted as something everyone does, you are unable to participate in and that makes me sad since I value them so much. You might have many things you do that make you perfectly happy, but they aren't the same as my activities. But Since I haven't got a great deal of time to think about it, I will say, "I am sorry." "

    She also probably didn't know how to phrase any kind of comment because most people don't think fast on their feet. Also, I don't know about anyone else, but I have a book of stock phrases in my head that I haul out and use when I don't know what else to say. It saves time and I don't have to think. Because of your blog post, I am going to work hard on eradicating that book in my head and just respond with something from my heart instead.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Annette

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  3. Wow Valerie that's a beautiful song... I tweeted it immediatly!

    Aaron: ... Now I don't know what to say haha! I had this comment in my head and I forgot. Well, it was a beautiful blog post and I think many people will be inspired by it.

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  4. I wish the world culd read and feel what you are trying to say! Amazing

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  5. Thank you for sharing! Everybody should read it.

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  6. Short, Sweet, To The Point, I Will Remember This Forever. Thank You :)

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  7. Hello. My name is Jody and I have a six year old nephew with Asperger Syndrome. And yes social situations can be very difficult for him, but he could also draw a three dimensional cube by the age of two as well as read and write his alphabet backwards and forwards by the same age. He is brilliant and Aspergers is nothing to apologize for. His life will be filled with his gift the same as any life is filled with its curses and blessings. Sometimes we trade one thing for another. I more look forward to what he is capable of than any of my other niece and nephews who would be considered "normal". Thank you for sharing your voice and perhaps together we can help the world see that we are all "normal" and unique.

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  8. hi I've been reading your blog and it is inspiring to me. The most I've been diagnosed with is, "acute social anxiety" but I feel like Im somewhere in the autism spectrum. Im 40 yrs old though and that explains why it was never even checked into. Anyway, I dream about having a blog that friends & family could read- communication is such hard work! I do like your blog though ;so now I'm hooked.

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  9. IT IS POSSIBLE (I put it in all caps here because I experienced it!). However, you are the one who have to break your invisible walls first. Once you break the invisible walls, then you can find allies who will support your cause.

    I know it's a very radical proposition. But, I HIGHLY suggest more individuals with autism to become occupational therapy practitioners as their careers. The reason are several folds.

    1. The community is super accepting (as long as you do your best to play the social rules game).

    2. They can get skills to manage their own symptoms. I am actually saving my parents a lot of money for the fact that I can manage myself. If you ever read studies about costs of autism over the lifespan comparing to the costs of getting my clinical doctorate in OT (even at a top OT school), the latter is actually a value deal!

    3. OT setting is sort of like a boot camp for individuals with autism with their weaknesses, particularly socially.

    Yes, I know OT is NOT possible for all individuals with autism to call it a career. But there are some who did make it- myself, an OT each I know in UK and Philippines, a possibly retired one in Arizona, and someone Temple Grandin met in Japan (from her latest book- the Way I See It). Out of the select few, I arguably have made the most impact on autism.

    One take home point I have with what I said is- each person with autism is an ambassador for individuals with autism. For those who can have the courage to educate others (like yourself), we can make much far greater impact if we go out of our ways and be allies with our neurotypical counterparts, particularly helping professionals and parent advocates. This is not a new message... as it was an idea from Steven Shore's Ask & Tell book.

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