Over the weekend KPLR here in Saint Louis aired the interview and in it I mentioned that when I spoke to a classroom of 5th graders one of the students asked, "If you could be cured of Asperger Syndrome would you do it?" In the interview and on that blog from last year I never did answer the question so here goes...
Would I take the cure if it were offered? As of today I would say 100% no, not a chance, and I wouldn't think twice. I don't think it's always been that way though. I realize now that what makes me a little different makes me, well, a little bit different and that's okay!
Of course, it wasn't always that way. When I was first diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome my doctor was clueless and told me, "good luck" after giving the diagnosis and then I looked it up on the internet and got awful information (literally it read, "people with Asperger Syndrome will never have a job, never have friends, and will never be happy) and believed every word of it and accepted my fate of a lifetime of misery. I mean, if that website said that it must be true and with that being the case why should I even try?
It was in those days that I'm sure, if offered a cure, I would have jumped at it. The problem was I wasn't living my own life but rather I was defined not by the diagnosis but what some non-medical web site said about it. Yes, at that point in time I would have given anything to be anyone but me.
Even as I started writing my book, Finding Kansas, I was still in that boat, but through writing I began to understand myself. I've said for quite some time that, "understanding is the foundation for hope" and it truly is. If one doesn't understand what they have then a person can fall into the trap of letting words define who you are (and that trap applies to anything really, not just Asperger Syndrome!)
As I began to write, and come up with concepts to describe the way the mind of the autism spectrum thinks, I began to see that the differences can be strengths. My ability to think outside the box and to then describe it through a metaphor was showing itself in my writings.
Slowly I began to accept who I am. I won't lie and say it happened overnight because it was a long road. I do think, however, if I would have had a better introduction to Asperger Syndrome I do think the road wouldn't have been as long, but then again, perhaps, my road did have to be long so everything would happen just so I would be in this position today. Yeah, I said I wouldn't take the cure because I know my ability to write comes from having it. If I didn't have Asperger Syndrome would I still be able to write as much as I do? Would I still be fiercely loyal to my beliefs? Would society be able to change me more easily? And the most important question of all; Would I still be me? I don't think I would still be myself and, as I said, it took a while but I'm very happy being me despite some of the challenges but overall all the quirks, traits, highs and lows make me who I am and that's all that I want to be.