I've let my open letter to the media run for three days for two reasons. The first of which was that I couldn't say anything better than that and secondly I don't really know what to say. I feel as if the world has been changed and this scares me.
I noticed yesterday that the media, at least in newspaper editorial pages and news websites seem to be trying to now counter-balance the initial onslaught the name Asperger's took. I wonder if it's enough though and will these messages reach all those that, well, need to hear it?
Since the beginning of my career raising autism awareness and understanding I have told myself I have been in a battle against autism ignorance. I never blamed those who had never heard of autism because how can you blame a person for misunderstanding something that they've never been taught? My fear is that the world has shifted; gone is the world of ignorance and now we may live in a world where there is prejudice.
So often in my presentations a person on the spectrum will open up and ask a question and afterwards I will hear the parents tell me, "My child has never opened up like that!" and that's sort of my message; it's okay to be on the spectrum. It's okay to have the challenges we face. I've said this because I've felt that, as awareness and understanding increases so too will the kindness and willingness to understand and help us. However, have we lost this? This is my fear.
To those that read my blog the answer, I'm sure, is that we haven't lost it. It's to those that don't know the autism spectrum because they have no affiliation to it. If the last thing they heard were the facts reported as I wrote in my open letter then how will they react? Fear? Befuddlement? Apprehension?
My greatest fear is that just one person, just one person with Asperger's Syndrome will fear the reaction of others regarding their diagnosis. This has been another reason why I haven't written a post in the past two days because it is, quite simply, too much for my mind to take. I mean, the sense of isolation, shame, and sorrow from this scenario is, well, it breaks my heart.
Perhaps only time will tell what the long term reactions will be. Maybe it won't be that bad. Then again, a comment on the open letter blog submitted by carriep said, "A friend of mines son saw the news reporting on this and said Mommy I have that
don't I and put his head down in shame."
I think that shows that the impact has already hit, and I wish I could tell that one person that it's okay to have Asperger's. It is! I'm sure there are many more that are feeling the same way and I don't want to make this about me, but I always knew what I was doing was important, but the need now is at an unimaginable level. It isn't just about spreading awareness and understanding anymore because a new aspect has been added; the feeling of that it's okay to be you. You have your challenges, your gifts, and your beauty of being you.
I don't know what else to say; perhaps as with the open letter I've said everything that has needed to be said. However, I know moving forward that I'm going to do everything I can to prevent my fears from coming true.