I'm back on the road (already) after my national tour but there's one thing about me that has been somewhat of a challenge and that is I feel I am only as good as what I'm doing now. What I did last month or last year, to me, doesn't count for that much. Because of this it is hard to take pride in what I do because, as I say, "I just do it because it needs to be done." And perhaps, if I had a different mindset, I wouldn't be who I am. Anyway, last month I may have spoken to over 7,700 people but my most recent stint as Autism Ambassador occurred at a most unusual place and that was while I was getting my haircut.
The experience started like any other as I was in my positional warfare (I haven't spoken about this in some time, but essentially this is a concept that states that I am uncomfortable no matter what posture or position I am in and this often occurs in social situations) and the lady who was about to cut my asked the question I fear the most, "How are you?" Typically I'd struggle with this answer pondering the fact on if this was a legitimate question of if it were a empty hello where a person doesn't actually care to hear how one is doing. As exhausted as I was I had no problem stating the fact that I was exhausted which brought up the follow up question, "how can you be exhausted, it's morning?" to which I responded that I just got back, a week ago, from a national tour.
From there the conversation shifted towards my work and my career and I mentioned that I'm an author on the subject and the lady cutting my hair already knew quite a lot about autism already which, for me, gives me a lot of hope.
While she was cutting my hair I easily shifted into "Alias" mode (Wow, I'm using a lot of concepts today. What "alias" means is that I am able to play a role much easier than I am at being myself. In a social situation that is wide open and I'm just me I have no idea what to say because there's so many possibilities a conversation can go, but if I'm playing a role, such as Autism Ambassador, I know what to say and how to say it.) and all in all it turned into a impromptu presentation.
It felt weird being told I should be proud, to which I mentioned that it's hard, if not impossible for me to feel that, and then out of nowhere another man who was getting his haircut mentioned that he had overheard my conversation and had a grandson who has Asperger's and was also on the police force and wish I had been able to present at the Academy 25 years ago.
What I thought was going to be another typical experience getting my haircut was quickly turning into one of the more meaningful presentations I have ever given and I had no idea I was going to give it. The big thing for me is that the person cutting my hair was able to say that, "if you've met one person on the autism spectrum it means you've just met one person." Think about that! I told her that 10 years ago a conversation, like the one we were having, would be rare because people just didn't know about autism the way it is now. Between her, the man, and another stylist the thirst for knowledge about the autism spectrum was obvious and in my presentation, when I speak about autism awareness 10 years ago I say, "autism awareness 10 years ago is no where where we are today and 10 years from now I'm sure we will be much further than where we are today" and after my unexpected presentation in a chair getting my haircut is any indication I think we will be much further than any of us expect 10 years from now.