I was feeling rather discouraged on the drive yesterday from Phoenix to Tucson. I was thinking about everything that I said in yesterday's post, but then a song that was playing in the car sprung a line of memories that reminded me why I do what I do and is a fitting thing to write about in this my 599th post.
This event goes all the way back to 1st grade and music class. Music class was always confusing for me, such as the time we listened to the Surprise Symphony and the rest of class gave very exaggerated response to the "surprise" in the symphony. However, that was just a mild thing compared to what happened later in the year.
We were listening, well, I'm not certain as to what was playing, but the teacher had plugged in the very large speakers and the vibrations from the bass was immense. I do remember that on this day my music teacher had a terrible cold and her voice was very quiet. Anyway, as soon as the music started I felt the shaking all throughout my body as well as the vibrations in the floor. This wasn't just an odd feeling, but it hurt. I raised my hand and said, "I feel the floor shaking!"
She responded, "Yes, it's called bass."
I responded with, "It hurts."
And she responded with something that I think shaped me. Yes, in my presentations I say that in 2nd grade, when I learned the pattern of the fire drills, I was afraid to speak up. Could it have been from this experience in 1st grade? Perhaps and it all could have started with her response of, "No it doesn't."
I've heard from many parents along my nationwide journey on fears of when, if ever, to tell their child they have Asperger Syndrome. I think this story puts a lot of merit in the "tell" side because by my 1st grade teacher telling me that what I was feeling wasn't there I was essentially being told either A. I need to "toughen up" or B. I was making up these sensations. In either event what is the logical course of action? For me it was to quit speaking up because if no one knew how I felt then how could I ever be told that what I was feeling was false?
I think back to that year, it was the 1989-1990 school year, and how far the world has come in understanding. Back then Asperger Syndrome wasn't even a diagnosis so I don't think we can fault my music teacher, I know I don't, because the level of awareness just simply wasn't there. However, even though I don't fault her the ramifications from being told that what I was feeling was "wrong" so to speak left a long lasting fear of speaking about how I felt. Now, let's say I was in 1st grade now, and let's say I was already diagnosed, if this were the case and I spoke up there's a good chance that, with the ever-increasing awareness of the autism spectrum, there wouldn't be this denial of feelings but rather, hopefully, compassion or empathy and a solution to the problem.
If a person doesn't know they have it, and his or her environment is troublesome, what conclusions can they draw? The conclusion I came to was that I was weak. Of course, not all people will have sensory issues, but this concept that I've stated here can and does apply to other aspects of life. Well, let's just look at the way I started this and the Surprise Symphony. I could not understand for the life of me why everyone had to scream, jump, and laugh at it and yet I would become that animated at conversations about weather or auto racing. This crossed my mind, but I just thought that everyone else was different and that I was the normal one.
To close, as I could probably write an excessively long post on this matter, I would hope this post has shed a different light on this debate. I have Asperger's now, and I had it then; that's a given. Back then when I would try and speak up for help, or if something was bothering me, too many times I heard, "no it doesn't" or a variation of. If I knew I had it, and those around me knew I had it, I think things would have been easier. Yes, this is why I do what I do and this is why I've toured the country for over a month because, if all know it, I'm going to feel more comfortable to speak up and instead of being denied my feelings I might just hear, "I know, let me help."