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Monday, July 16, 2012

Answering the Question

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.

19 comments:

  1. thank you
    aaron i hope my son reads this.

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  2. LOVE this post. My son was diagnosed with Asperger's 2 years ago (he is 9 now) and it has been a wonderful road so far. He struggles with things but he is a wonderfully amazing child. He knows he is different from other kids but he embraces that and loves himself for who he is. He tells his friends that only super special people can have aspergers HAHAHA Thanks so much for this blog. I haven't read much of it yet but I will over time.

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    1. Your child is absolutely correct. Only special people have Asperger. :)

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  3. As I said on Facebook: I love your answer. I have been asked the same question and responded with the same answer. For me there has been a time too where I'm sure I would've taken the cure, but not any more. I don't think I would be the same person if I took the cure. Autism doesn't define me, but it did help shape me and my believes and that might all be shattered if it went away. I'd rather work with my Asperger's and find my own path in life.

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  4. Aaron.... I agree with you if they offered a "cure" for Asprgers for my son I wouldnt want anything changed about him its his uniqueness that makes him an even better asset to the world. Just as your Aspergers has helped open up the eyes of many who believed those thing on the internet years ago. The world needs all types of people to make it go around. Im in the process of reeading your book and it has reeally opened my eyes more to what my son may struggle with. So thank you.

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  5. Aaron.... I agree with you if they offered a "cure" for Asprgers for my son I wouldnt want anything changed about him its his uniqueness that makes him an even better asset to the world. Just as your Aspergers has helped open up the eyes of many who believed those thing on the internet years ago. The world needs all types of people to make it go around. Im in the process of reeading your book and it has reeally opened my eyes more to what my son may struggle with. So thank you.

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  6. Aaron have you read anything about crystal and rainbow children. I homeschool my children so there really is no need for labels...I don't need anyone to tell me my children are different from others and thank goodness they are. Rainbow and crystal are also labels but instead of harm give us more of an ah ha moment. It is thought by many that all of you special "diferent" people (myself included) are humanity's next evolutionary stage. The ones who start to bridge world's because of how you perceive it. Blessings to you Aaron.

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  7. I'm so happy to read this, Aaron. This gives me so much hope for my son's future. What makes you different gives you special strengths. So much is a matter of perspective. Thank you for sharing this. I wish you peace with yourself all your life.

    Warmest Regards,

    Diana

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  8. hi, i also get asked the same question oftern. an i find peoples answers very intresting, because from a medical point of veiw we treat everything, however theres also the question of just because we can should we. to take a treatment for As i feel like it would be taking away part of me, but would i be the same wihtout it? thats the question. to be very honest if i treatment was avaliable when i was diagnosed i would proberly take it straight away, however now maybe not as i've learnt to accept the condition and its affects on me.
    thankyou for your blog, its been a great read! jsx
    http://nurseteaspoons.blogspot.co.uk/

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  9. I am trying to get my Son to read your blog - he has ASD and although very open and willing to tell people how it affects him behind closed doors he feel that he has no purpose in the world. He says he does not struggle with himself - he struggles with society accepting him. He wants to be left alone - he says he is comfortable with himself so why are others not. I hope that he will read this, Thank you for your blog

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  10. I am trying to get my son to read your blog - He has ASD and although he is happy to talk to people about how autism affects his life, behind closed door he feels he has no purpose in the world - he is 16 so at that difficult time in his life. He told me that he does not have a problem accepting his ASD just that he has a problem getting society to accept him and his ASD. Thanks for the insight

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  11. There is a lot of hope in this blog. Thanks for the hope Aaron!

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  12. Hi Aaron:

    Hope my comment helps someone who is worried because their child has Asperger.

    I agree with you a 100% that if there was a cure for Asperger I would not go for it.

    After I was diagnosed with Asperger's (quite late in my life) and read about it..... I finally understood so many things specially about my social life. Since I was a teen I learnt to "act" as if I was "normal" I knew I was different,but did not know why.... I did not like to be around people, they made me nervous and still do, but before I would copy some social patterns and would use them when I needed them. But after some years I got tired and I avoid people. I love to be alone. I am craft oriented and I do beautiful stained glass lamps, I paint portraits, I make porcelain dolls and I always wonder why normal people can get bored when there is so much to do. Another of my passions is reading science and history. There is so much to learn and life is so short. I have a good job I am an administrator so I do not have to deal to much with people except via phone which does not make me nervous.

    What I can say about Asperger for me is that it is a blessing for me. It makes me feel unique and different. As you say it took some time to feel this way but it was because at first I did not fit anywhere.... and now it is the same, I still don't fit anywhere except in one place and that is in the beautiful world I have in myself. People have accepted that I don't like being in parties, but once in a while we can have a nice phone talk.

    My personal point of view is that we Asperger's do not see problems in ourselves, it is other people that think we have problems.

    I don't understand what "normal" people feel when socializing . I see that they seem to have a great time. For me it is almost hell being in a party. But when I am by myself... gosh i love it. Peace, silence, reading, learning, crafting... I love being an Asperger. :)

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    1. I'm wondering, as a fellow Asperger: What if a party was totally fit to your needs? A party where there's not too much noise, where people understand your way of thinking or even think the same way, where the main activity might even be crafting and learning... But then together!
      I'm on the board of a weekly autism meeting, where we have exactly this. We always keep the noise down and we offer a variety of activities (while still keeping the noise down!) where you can decide what to join and what not to join. If you want, you can even bring your own activity with you. You're not forced into anything, it's just being offered.

      I'm wondering if something like that would work for you. For example, I always thought I didn't like parties either. Then a friend of mine had this party with the music down low, everyone just spoke one at a time in a calm voice, and I could decide for myself what to join and what not to join.

      I'm wondering if in this way you'd be able to socialise, or if you would still prefer to be on your own (which is fine if you do).

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    2. Thank you Issha:

      Yes, I understand what you mean. I am able to "socialize" meaning with this just saying hi and goodbye. :)... in study groups, in my craft classes, in my painting classes where we are all focused in our own projects and yes we can exchange some each one's project.

      Where I can't be and I do no attend by no means is a barbecue, somebody's birthday, Christmas or New Years party. Where all kind of personalities talk, or laugh or socialize how most people do. Since I used to copy social patterns to fit in. It is here where all my circuits fuse...:) since I never know how or what to say to someone. I used to feel as thought I absorbed everybodies personality and I felt I could wreck at any given moment.

      Now that I know why I am this way... I simply do not attend these kind of reunions and I feel very well saying no thank you. I can't attend your party without feeling guilty.

      And now I dedicate each free moment of my life to do things I really enjoy to do.

      I have only one friend and she understands very well how I am and respects my solitude needs. And there are lot of acquantances that think I am a nice person who simply does not like to join in groups.

      For me, more than 3 is a multitude. :)

      Thank you for taking your time Issha in reading and answering to my comment. Wish you a great day.

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    3. Thank you for anwering FUSION. I can understand how you feel, since I feel the same at family birthdays and similar things. Since, obviously, not all autistic people are the same, I find it interesting to read how this works out for others. Also, you gave a different perspective on how I view socialising between people. Thank you for that.

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  13. Hi Aaron:

    I LOVE being an Asperger. :)

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  14. When I read this blog it always makes me feel good. I tell my kids not to allow society to define who they are. You are all re-enforcing my faith that my son will find his way in life with asperger's, because he has family that believes you can be anything you set your mind on, and he is a fantastic person :>, and we won't allow society to define us! :>
    My son is still trying to find a friend, but we have high hopes that one day he will have friends in his life that don't judge. This blog gives us hope!

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    1. I am currently on the board for a weekly autism meeting. Maybe they have something like that in your neighbourhood too? That might help him make friends. Because he'll be around other autistic people, they won't judge him as much. This might help break the barrier. Just a suggestion... :)

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