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Monday, March 3, 2014

#10: The Destructive Wake of Catastrophic Generalizations

This post was in a series after the tragedy that occurred in December 2012 and to this day I still am finding that there are still extreme generalizations out there. Just last month a student with Asperger's asked, "Do people with Asperger's cry? I heard that it's impossible unless the person is really weak." and when I gave my answer that, "Oh yes! Most certainly we can cry!" there was a gigantic smile on his face. That being said, we still have a long way to go to eliminate any sort of generalization because, after all, and I've said in a hundred times on my blog, "If you've met one person with autism you've only met one person with autism."

 

Monday, December 24, 2012



The Destructive Wake of Catastrophic Generalizations

My previous two posts have been, perhaps, the most passionate I have ever written. Why is that? Right now I am feeling more emotions than I have ever felt in my life. The weekend was a somber blur with my family as, yes, I have been around them and talking but it feels as if I'm only half here. Where's the other half? In mourning of the past because my fear, as I talked about in Friday's post, is where I was nine years ago.

Nine years ago a generalization about the Asperger's destroyed the life I had up until that point. I got my diagnosis nine years ago this month. The moment of diagnosis when my doctor told me the news he told me, "good luck" and nothing else because he was simply reading what the assessment had told him and since he didn't know, exactly, Asperger's was he could tell me nothing else. With that being the case I turned to the internet, did a search, and read that, "All people with Asperger's will never have a job, never have friends, and will never be happy."

I read that early in the month and it wasn't really processed at that point in time, but that line, that line that almost read like a prison sentence, sat and simmered. What did it all mean? Slowly the simmering turned into a belief and I took those words for fact. I became bitter and I slowly began to drift away from my relationships with the biggest blow coming nine years ago today.

In my presentations I say this story somewhat in jest as looking back it was a very Aspergish thing to do. I had a girlfriend, only girlfriend I've had, and while I was drifting away I was still wondering if she still liked me because, in my mind, it was impossible that she did because, after all, I had this belief that anything positive was simply impossible because of the website I had read a couple weeks prior. What could I do to see if she still liked me? I certainly couldn't ask directly because that would involve emotions and emotional talk at the time was something I avoided at all costs. What did I do? I decided to go around the situation by deciding to break up with her because, if she still liked me, she would protest. How did I break up? Was it in person, or over the phone? Nope and sort of. Had I called that too would lead to emotions so I broke up via text message with the confidence that she would reply quickly and everything would be okay. I stayed up until 6AM and there was no call or text; my relationship had imploded in the most spectacular of ways.

The following 15 months were hell. Hope was something I didn't believe in all because of one sentence I read. To say that the generalizing line I read impacted my life would be like saying a comet hitting a planet is a minor event. This was a catastrophic shock to my being. I questioned everything about myself and believed that I could and would amount to nothing. Again, all this was caused by that one line.

Generalizing is something that is done and I, myself, will generalize about the autism spectrum. I will say that we typically have troubles communicating and socializing. But... and this is the biggest line, if you've met one person with autism you've only met one person with autism. To say "all" about the autism spectrum can be rather detrimental.

If you've read my book, "Finding Kansas" or have read my blog for any amount of time you know I eventually came out of that deepest of depressions. However, these past few days I have been back in that dark place and have at times cried. I'm not sad because I've gone back to believing the farce that I read back in 2003; instead I am sad because of those that might be feeling what I felt because they heard a catastrophic generalization on the news or the internet these past 10 days.

Look, I know that each of us on the autism spectrum can face hurdles as high as Mount Everest but if we believe we can't achieve a single thing in our lives where is there any room for hope?

I often get asked what I think would have happened in my life had I had a better introduction to Asperger's or perhaps been diagnosed earlier in life. This is hard for me to answer because everything had to happen to me just so to get me to where I am and doing what I am, but for others out there, I believe, there is no need to go through the hell I went through.

This Christmas, as with the past eight, will be a day of mourning for me. Easily this is the hardest day of the year for me, but this year I feel a closer bond to the person I was back in 2003 making the day even harder, but I know that tomorrow and the day after tomorrow will come. I know that this feeling I'm experiencing will pass, but it won't be forgotten because this deep sorrow is why I do what I do and if I can get the right information to just one person then, well, I know the destructive wake that generalizations of no hope give and hope has more power than most people realize.

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