Maybe this blog will be too strong, but I have a lot of passion towards this at the moment...
Okay, I want you to think about this; if you were buying a sports car would you buy one that had a max speed of 35mph? If you were buying season tickets to a baseball team would you be excited if they promised "no more than 20 wins" in a season of 162? If investing in stocks would you put your money in a stock that there was a guarantee that it would never go higher than the price you purchased it?
I could come up with more and more of those situations where what is will always be and improvement is impossible, but I hope you get the point as to what I am trying to explain here. Anyway, I would hope that in all those situations I stated you would say, in a loud manner, "NO!" because accepting an expensive sports car that only does 35 is a joke, a home team is supposed to win, and aren't stocks an investment and if there's only a guarantee to lose then that isn't a wise choice. What do these seemingly asinine scenarios have to do with anything? Lately I've been hearing a trend that has been getting to me and that is that certain small parts of society are now essentially putting a label cap on those with Asperger's.
Here's the problem with putting a cap on a person. First, I'm fine with my diagnosis of Asperger's and call it a label, call it a syndrome, whatever you want to call it my goal in life is to define it and not have it define me. However, as I found out when I got first got diagnosed it is easy to let it define yourself. Longtime readers are probably a little tired of hearing this story, but my doctor, when he diagnosed me (after reading an assessment from another agency) said, "good luck" so I was left to figure it out on my own. I went to the Internet (this was back in 2003) and the first website I found stated, and stated boldly I might add, that people with Asperger's will, "Never have a job, never have friends, and will never be happy" and at that moment a cap was placed on my life.
After reading that website I gave up on life; I truly did. I stayed that way for 15 months and it wasn't until yesterday that I came up with this concept of being capped, so to speak, that I could explain how it felt. Because of the dire destiny I read I believed my life was at its peak. There was no room for gain, no room for growth, and who I was, whatever I was, was it. There would be no job, no understanding, and in a world like that how can one find the logic to fight on? How can one, if failure is the only perceived outcome, continue to look to each day with vigor and excitement?
I feel it is very easy for a person to be put in a situation where they feel capped. If there is no understanding within a school a person may quickly feel as if the current situation is forever. Another major mistake is for people to speak about a person with autism in their presence as if the person isn't there. Whatever is the cause I've been hearing this story too much as of late. I know the feeling and it is one of utmost despair. I like the word I've used hear in, "capped" because it means to, "restrict or limit" and isn't that the opposite of what it means to be alive? Yes, there are going to be things I'm going to have a more difficult time than others on, but that doesn't mean I'm capped in all of my life. There is always room for growth and there's always room to learn. If anyone in my surroundings, when I was younger, would have verbally capped me then I don't know where I would be today. You see, we on the autism spectrum are often our own worst enemies when it comes to convincing ourselves that we're going to fail, or that we aren't perfect but if we hear that from others I can think of no more condemning sentence that can be handed out. In other words, if you tell me I can't then I very well may never be able to.
My belief is this; there is so much human potential in all of us and it is, sadly, very easy to let that potential be squandered. Every so often I have a blog post like this that restates and reshapes my mission in life and once again here's one of those blogs. There's a problem out there and while it isn't widespread I've heard too many stories. Well, to be honest one story is one too many and I've heard much more than one and I hope, and pray, that someday my job is no longer needed. Imagine that world; a world where there are no caps, no, "you'll never have a job" and no, "If you were normal it would be easy." What a world that would be! I don't know about you, but I'm going to do my part, and maybe a little more, to get us there.