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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

One Hole In The System...

Yesterday was a long day for me and it was also a good time to look within myself and determine what is causing this sluggishness. I kept going back to my issues I had getting to Grand Junction, but then I thought of other odd things that have happened to me and determined that the travel event couldn't be the whole story.

Last Monday my dad was in New York City and he met with my new publisher. He told me what was said and how excited the editor is to have my book. All in all the meeting was amazingly positive and all are hopeful that my book has a chance of making it big.

"Big? What does that mean? How many people and families will benefit from my words if it gets big? What will life look like? What if it doesn't get big?" These are the questions that my mind has been hammering out for the past week and I think this is the root of why I have been feeling odd. Granted, this, for most people, would be something that would be a dream, but for me being on the spectrum any unknown variable is a ticking stress bomb.

When there is something small or large left open my mind starts to dwell on it and quickly it becomes a swirling whirlpool that starts to suck in other aspects of life. Small things become trapped in the whirlpool and my defenses for handling smaller events in life become nullified. As time goes on the swirling action of the this whirlpool envelops everything and this is what I want to point out; when I was younger and seeing counselors they would always ask me, "Aaron, what is bothering you?" To this I would always say, when I was feeling bothered, "Everything." because to me that's exactly what it is.

Once there is a single hole in the system the whole system slowly cascades downward. Many times, when I was younger, I didn't have the awareness of myself to know what I was truly being bothered by, but now thankfully I do, but this is why I write this. Us people on the spectrum are horrible self-advocates  and WE WILL VERY RARELY SAY WHAT IS BOTHERING US! With that being said it can be rather easy to go on a wild chase trying to figure it out, but once the whirlpool begins all the smaller things we tolerate may become intolerable.

I don't write this to make the AS seem scary, but to state it in a realistic tone. When there is a whirlpool don't give up but try and open your mind as to what the center of the matter is. I'm sure it is easy to become frustrated because we will think everything is wrong with the world and nothing is right and with our mindset we will believe nothing ever will be right.

I have been thinking back on the past year-and-a-half and can pinpoint three different times I have been in the whirlpool state. Each time though I have made it out the other side. I know now this and am not fighting the emotions I am feeling. Eventually my mind will know there is nothing I can do except wait for the release of my book on April 3rd, 2012 to see what it will be like. I can think, predict, and calculate what it will be like all I want but that won't do me any good because this is the utmost of unknown variables.

One thought I had while writing this was that someone might ask, "Well, Aaron, what would have happened if your dad didn't say anything about the meeting?" and I believe that would have been worse because I would have had this mind logic, "Well, since he didn't say anything that means that the meeting went bad. Wait a sec, how bad? Are they canceling it? Do they think it's bad? Is everything over..." With that being said I certainly will take this over that.

In my life I can trace the majority of whirlpools to trying to figure out that which can not be figured out. Trying to know the future in advance is a slippery slope and usually will lead me to a whirlpool. Remember though, and this is critical, if you've met one person with autism you've only met one person with autism. What causes it and what the reaction is may vary heavily from person to person. As a majority though, us people on the spectrum prefer predictability and routine and when something major is looming I'm sure the chances of a whirlpool are greater.

1 comment:

  1. People with autism can be GREAT self advocates. All they need is a good mentor and conquer the social anxiety they have.

    I am fortunate to have 2 GREAT mentors in the self-advocacy department. Although they both teach me on how to advocate for the OT profession, I am applying what they taught me into my role as an autism self-advocate.

    The first "mentor" I have is someone who has 2 more years in OT practice than me. She is a strong supporter of the single payer health insurance bill in CA and had played a big role in unifying health professionals in other disciplines for this bill. The second "mentor" I have is a COTA who has been around for 2-3 decades and has been active with congress people as well as celebrities. Through learning from the two of them, I have developed my own style!

    As for the "big" question, dreaming big is not a bad thing. The thing is- it's best that you are at the controls whenever possible. You know your interests and what your message is better than anybody. Sure, I sometimes rely on connections to get me things. BUT, I make a lot of things happen for myself. Once people see my work, some of them may join my bandwagon and give me more suggestions! Sometimes I take the suggestions and try them out, sometimes I leave them at the back burner. Ultimately, you have to need people to help you to go beyond your existing circles.

    Like me for example, I have people suggesting me to not only have my journal articles published on OT peer review journals, but also in other disciplines. Similarly, they also want me to explore presenting in conferences outside of OT. Lastly, my second "mentor" has been setting me up appearances to talk to the public about autism- radio, legislative visits, you name it. While these seem big already, I have wilder dreams than this- 1) being an American Occupational Therapy Association fellow (1% of occupational therapists in the US get this!) 2) serve in OT leadership positions in my state and/or nationally 3) Deliver the Eleanor Slagle Lecture (similar to Nobel Prize in the OT in the US) 4) Deliver my own OT autism presentations in Hong Kong in English, Cantonese, and Mandarin. (I don't want a translator if I prove I can do it in the last two languages.)

    You are more than capable to make some noise in the autism world. Your potential will depend on how much work you want to put in to address your weaknesses and perhaps get better credentials so that more people can respect who you are.

    I am getting my clinical doctorate in OT for a reason- because I don't believe it has been done by an individual with autism anywhere in the world... and the fact I am getting one will be a monumental milestone for the OT profession! You can call this a "small step" in my big dreams.

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