Yesterday I rode along with the USAC crew to North Carolina from Indianapolis and had plenty of time to think about the past, present, and future. I was thinking in particular to where I am now and how much things have changed since I got my diagnosis of Asperger's ten years ago. This is something I think of rather frequently, actually, but in the midst of these thoughts I got an e-mail about a story that Golf Channel ran about a dad and his son who is on the autism spectrum. Since I was in the mountains of West Virginia I couldn't watch it but I was able to read the blog post that motivated it (this is a must read) which was odd because I typically will not read works from anyone else to keep my works uninfluenced.
As I finished reading it I had chills as I recalled my younger years and the way my dad was with me. In fact, I too had a course of sorts in my backyard. Okay, so it was just one hole without a flag and it was actually a flowerpot, but hey, I had lots of fun. I also thought to my current love of golf and the times I've spent playing golf with my dad, and the two times this year. I finally cracked though and bought current clubs which I am going to miss my Spalding set from the 60's, but that isn't the point of this story (although I am going to miss all the comments about, "Wow, I haven't seen a wood wood in decades" from other golfers.)
When I finished reading Tim Miles' blog post I looked up and to my left I saw the river that runs alongside I-64 in a few places in West Virginia. The timing couldn't have had any more impact than where we were because back in 2003, a few days after Thanksgiving, the process to get diagnosed began.
My dad was driving and I was riding alongside and for the first time my dad mentioned to me his thoughts that something was, in fact, different with me. A week or so prior my dad had just learned about Asperger's and it was here he decided to inform me about his thoughts, concerns, and the fact that he was going to go ahead and get me assessed. He then stated, "Aaron, we're on a path here and it will probably be difficult at times. It's going to require hard work and I can't tell you how long or short the process will be, but we will get through it together."
I watched the waters flowing in the river back in 2003 and I was lost in what all that meant and yesterday I was once again lost. I thought back to my dad's speech and I went further back in my memory to all the things my dad had shared with me in my life. From the backyard haphazard golf course, I mean hole, to the Sunday afternoons at the bowling alley to all the weekend's spent at a race track the path had actually started much longer than the cold November day in 2003 when I was being told it was beginning.
The miles went on and I kept thinking about all that had happened since that ride in 2003 and the path my dad had mentioned. Was the path difficult? Oh, most certainly and it was made worse by the misinformation about autism back then, but I did navigate the path. Well, I should say we navigated the path because I wasn't alone. And that was the thing, I wasn't alone; I wasn't alone when I didn't have a diagnosis, I wasn't alone in the process leading to the diagnosis, and even in my darkest times I wasn't alone.
If you take one thing from Tim Miles' post take the fact that there is a shared interest and that, in those times that "Kansas" is being shared things are more normal (whatever normal is) than not. I, again, think back to all the things my dad shared with me and without a doubt I would not be where I am without his presence. Were there other factors? Of course there were, but my dad said it best on that cloudy, cold November day in 2003 when he said, "we will get through it together" and while I think that path is still being traveled today the hardest times, and the darkest times, are in the past and I'm so grateful I didn't have to travel this path by myself.