After what seems to be a couple weeks of posts that just weren't on the happy side I'm going to mix things up today and talk about hope. Hope is really a subjective thing and is in the eye of the beholder. Where one person may see an empty field another may see a field ripe with opportunity. That being said I think, after this story, you to will have just a bit more hope of where we are headed.
I presented at a junior high school yesterday, to about 650 people between students and staff, and I did my normal 20 minute school presentation and as usual I opened it up to questions. I've said it once, twice, and many more times than I know but I wish you could see the true magic that occurs during the Q&A. Yesterday though, yesterday was different.
There's been several times in the past where a person will have a comment or start a question by saying, "I have Asperger's..." or, "I have autism" but yesterday there were no less than six of these. Here's the thing; some that opened up was completely unknown to everyone else around and for the setting to be comfortable enough for a person to open up is, well, I see it as hopeful. One question, which I know I'm never going to forget the way I felt, and feel now writing about it, when this student asked me, "Yeah, I have several stims with my hands and I'd just like you to explain it to everyone on why we have these." I let out a big smile as she asked that because the question touched my heart because I have stims and in school each time I couldn't hold back my peers would look at me with a look of, "and that was???" but here I was able to have the words I didn't have then and put it in a way that all there, students and faculty, will understand.
More questions came and it's getting harder and harder to hold back tears on these questions. I know I'm a professional, but when I realize that this could be the first time a person on the spectrum has had the nerve to speak up, and advocate for the first time, how could I not be moved and wherever you are in the world I hope you can see this one day. I truly do because, for one, it would mean I'm presenting at another school, but secondly because I'm sure your level of hope will increase.
If we want to change the future it starts in the present and it hasn't failed yet that when I present to a student body I leave there filled with this conviction that we are headed in the right direction and we are headed to a place where autism understanding is the norm. Are we there yet? Not by a long shot, but me it myself, or you, we are all working on the same mission and that, alone, is the seeds of hope.