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Friday, March 1, 2013

Mission Restated

Okay, I can't lie, the past week-and-a-half has not been easy with the noise issues at my place. I've been feeling defeated, angry, and directionless. It's amazing how something as seemingly small as noise can derail one's direction in life and skew one's image of who they are. I've been playing all the horrible games this past week of, "chasing normal" and "seeing what I am not therefore forgetting who I am." Yes, it's been a rough week but then I got an e-mail.

Tomorrow will start the 4th year of my mission with TouchPoint to raise the awareness and understanding of the autism spectrum. I don't think anyone could have envisioned just how dynamic this mission has been the past three years for myself taking me coast-to-coast several times. The fuel behind my energy and passion for this stems from the night I got diagnosed.

So what about that e-mail I mentioned? Yeah, I'm working on getting to it. Anyway, the night I got diagnosed, and if you've read my blog a long time then you already know the story, but I had this thing called Asperger Syndrome and I had never heard of it before so I did a search on the internet. The first page I clicked said that, "Those with Asperger's will never have a job, never have friends, and will never be happy." To state it simply, it wasn't the best of introductions and my life essentially was frozen for 16 months as I descended into the depths of depression that no one should have to endure. This eventually motivated me to write because, at the time, I couldn't speak about my emotions but I found out I could write them.

Three years ago I started a journey to spread awareness and understanding to as many people as possible. I now know that my original introduction to Asperger's was not the truth and, sadly, there's still much misinformation out there. That's where this e-mail comes in.

Yesterday I was in a bitter mood and I got an e-mail from outside America. It was from a fellow person with Asperger's and in it they told the story that was my biggest fear after the tragic events of December. Then an odd thing happened; they read my book and realized the media reports and the generalizations that can be found on the internet weren't all true. Through my words this person could relate perfectly and then, they didn't feel alone.

It was the most timely e-mail I have ever received. My bitterness vanished and I remembered who I am and why I'm doing what I do. Also, it was timely because, as mentioned, today concludes my third full year and tomorrow will be the beginning of my fourth. When I first sat down and put my thoughts on paper I could never, and I mean NEVER could have imagined becoming who I am and having an influence in languages I don't even speak. Yet it has happened.

My mission is one of the utmost importance. For those 16 months after I read that hopeless website I felt alone. I knew no one could understand how I felt. Any time my dad tried to have me watch a news story about autism, or read a book like Temple Grandin's or Tony Attwood's I would do everything in my power because what good would it do? I knew the truth and the truth was there was no hope. What good would it do to try in life? I stayed that way for 16 months and it wasn't until I began to write that I slowly learned that there is hope. I still find it odd that I am the one saying that after adamantly denying hope for so long.

Do I have all the answers? No, and as of right now if someone claims to have all the answers then they probably don't know the autism spectrum all that well. However, there still are "experts" and websites that have "all the answers" and that also spread damaging generalizations and words of hopelessness. My mission is to try and give as much realistic information that I can of what it's like to be on the autism spectrum. I firmly believe that understanding is the foundation for hope. There is no magic pill to cure autism, but through work and understanding the lives of us on the autism spectrum can be all the more productive. For about a week I forget this as I endured my sensory issues, but from a person I've never met, or corresponded with, I was reminded the gravity of this mission. Sometimes I may forget, or downplay, what I do but make no mistake when I say that no one should be in the place I was in for 16 months and I will do anything and everything in my power to get my voice to be heard.

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