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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Dark Times

This is part 2 of 3 in telling the story of who I am why my passion is what it is...

Also breaking news today as the US CDC says 1 in 88 children will have autism! As I head into my nationwide tour next week this just fuels the passion. The need is out there!

The answer came in the form of an article in Parade magazine. All the "quirks" I had were explained in this article. My parents simply thought that my teachers were right and that I was simply smarter. Per the article though there was this thing called Asperger Syndrome that was part of the autism spectrum.

My dad called around and my doctor sent me to get an assessment and then I visited the doctor a few weeks after. For once in my life I was starting to think that there was something different about me but I didn't know what. I was 20 years old at the time and the doctor looked over all the info and said, "Well, reading this, yes, well, without a doubt you have Asperger Syndrome. I guess, well, I don't know, good luck."

Good luck? First, he gave me a diagnosis I never heard of and secondly, well, I don't think he had ever heard of it either. The year was 2003 and autism awareness is no where near what it is today. That being so I didn't know what this thing called Asperger Syndrome was a couple hours after I got home I looked it up on the internet and the very first thing I read said, "People with Asperger Syndrome will never have a job, will never have friends, and will never be happy." I read that and instantly I shattered inside because I believed it.

It was as if the first 20 years of my life ceased to exist because I was now living with a sentence. This wasn't a prison sentence, but a sentence much like it because of that dire prediction. I have since learned that when one believes such a line it will come true and that's what happened to me; I pushed everyone aside in my life and I didn't care about anyone or anything. I mean, what was the point in trying in life when I was destined to failure?

My life continued on like this and I was simply "counting the days" as one person put it, but I didn't care. I was defeated and I stayed defeated for a total of 15 months. 15 long, sad, depressing months, but then something odd happened; I started to write.

If I can say that it was as if I ceased to exist after I read that hideous and false line of no hope I should be able to say I was reborn the night I started to write because for the first time in my life I was expressing myself. I didn't start out to write a book, but all I wanted, and dreamt of, was that someone might understand who I was and why I was.

I will never forget that first night I started to write. It was about 2AM and I had simply had enough of going through all that I was going through alone. Each night I wrote I would leave my work on the stove for my dad to see in the morning and each time I was always nervous that he would be angry with me for using metaphors to explain the reasons why I do the things I do.

Night after night I would write something and after a while it felt natural. Again, I didn't start out with the grand scheme of being an author, but I just wanted my family to know who I was because, at the time, I was unable to do this with spoken words. By writing I eliminated the need to process all the information that comes about from talking such as reading faces and processing the potential responses to potential questions.

Over the course of the year I wrote and I never expected anyone besides my dad to read it. I was still in what I would consider my "dark times" but all that changed late in 2005 when an episode of "The Apprentice" came on and a new organization known as "Autism Speaks" was featured. There were interviews and I heard a line that this new charity wants to help those who can not speak and I began to think about my writings and the response I had from a few professionals and at that moment I had a thought, "Could my writings actually be worthwhile?"

My dad allowed various people to read my work and the response was always the same, "Oh my! Wow!" Still though, yes, still I believed that horrible destiny that I read the day I got my diagnosis. All this changed in 2009 which set the wheels in motion to shatter my belief in that false line of no hope and to turn all those 15 months of sadness into an unshakable passion and that story will come tomorrow.

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