Yesterday was an important blog post; perhaps not for you but for myself. There was one thing missing, however, that as I thought about it today I realized I didn't lay out a good, valid reason for this race I'm in and to do so I'm going to do something I don't normally do and that is playing the hypothetical game.
So okay, I wanted to be a race car driver. 10 years ago this month I was an instructor at a race car driving school, I had a sponsor, and I was just about to sign with a team. Let's say this team wasn't as they turned out. Let's say I impressed some important people with my driving skills and I started moving up the racing ladder. Had this been happening I would never have been diagnosed. Without my diagnosis and self-awareness the amount of social pitfalls would have been numerous.
One thing about being a race car driver today is the fact that one has to have good people skills now. There are many social functions whether it is meeting fans or engaging with sponsors that are an absolute must for any driver at the top level. Would I have been able to do this back then? As I think about it, and how timid and shy I was as an instructor outside the actual instructing, I'd have to say that my implosion in this process would have been catastrophic. Why? I would have been under the mindset that racing was just about that; going faster than everyone else around me. This aspect of mingling with others, establishing relationships with the crew and other drivers would've been lost on me. I'd probably have been called silent, arrogant, or maybe even downright rude and I would have had no idea why.
This is the essence of the race. If the information isn't out there, if those that need the diagnosis don't get it, then what happens? For myself, before I was diagnosed, there was only self-hatred. "Why were others different?" I thought to myself on a daily basis. I often hear questions of, "but isn't a label bad?" and I have to go back and tell you to think about what would have happened if I was racing cars and if I would've had my crack at the big time. Without knowledge of what I had, which is a big part of what makes me who I am, I would have become more and more bitter and I'm sure I'd eventually grow to hate myself, or everyone else around me.
My race has many dimensions; the first is awareness, but the second is the pursuit of early diagnosis. While I haven't blogged about this as much as I should have, it is a major factor in my presentation. It is known that the earlier a person on the autism spectrum gets services the chances for a faster rate of growth increase. In the tour that I am doing right now, in speaking to thousands of students, I firmly believe that if we want to increase this we need to educate the students of today as the students of today will be the doctors, nurses, social workers, and teachers of tomorrow.
Today is a big step in my race as I'm now headed to present two times to speak to almost 1,600 people. I'm looking forward to it and I do have a tad bit of nerves as I'll be presenting to an absolute packed theater... twice! If ever the race were in overdrive today is the day.