Monday, May 10, 2010

The 50th Blog Post: How Did I Get Here?

At the start of April I had a post on how I became passionate about autism awareness, but how did I get to that point? I often get asked, "Aaron, how did you start writing?" I've been asked this enough that I felt that it would be right to have this be my 50th post.

First, this is a big deal as the number 50 is halfway to 100 and I love milestones. I was always pressured to do a blog and didn't know anything about the blogosphere or any of the protocol on what to and what not to write. After enough motivation I started and hopefully you have enjoyed the first 49 posts as much as I have enjoyed writing the stories. The way I started blogging though was much like I started to write, on that first night.

Back in February, 2005 I had been diagnosed for just over a year and was in the biggest pit of depression I have ever experienced. For those of you that have read my book (if you haven't, click on the book cover on the upper right!) you know that I started writing by writing a chapter about a relationship that fizzled after my diagnosis.

On that first night I didn't care about the grammatical protocol and didn't care about spelling. The only thing I wanted was a conduit to say what I wanted to say. At the time, speaking was difficult for me and expressing any emotion of any kind was avoided at all costs. Writing though, writing allowed me to state things without an immediate response.

I first learned this tactic when I got my diagnosis. I knew that questions would be asked and they would probably deal with emotions, so the night before my assessment I wrote a multi-page story of my life hoping that on any question asked I could simply say, "I covered it, read page 2".

Sadly, the assessor did not once read anything of it during the assessment so my grand plan failed. What didn't was that I knew that I could write. Was it good? I had no idea, but writing came easy to me and while it took a while and it took me going into the pit of not caring about life to unlock it, it eventually became unlocked.

That first night I wrote the chapter about my relationship, printed it off, and placed in on the stove so my dad could read it in the morning. I was petrified that night in fright because I didn't know the response I would receive. I had to say it though as I was so bottled up in emotion that had no way to diffuse.

The response from my dad wasn't of hate or anger, but rather of encouragement so I wrote again the next night, and then the following night.

I began to slow down, but when I was in Kenya and we were held against out will by a mob of homeless kids in Kissumu, I found a new found cylinder to fire on.

I slowed down again, and then in May I had a very nasty bout with MRSA. If you don't know what that is I am envious of you because MRSA is a very nasty strain of staph that wreaks havoc wherever it goes. I was in the hospital for almost a week and it was the loneliest time of my life. I sent a text, with my phone, to the person that I wrote about first and dedicated my book to, but she didn't respond. My dad was out of town and I don't recall any visitors after the first night.

The pain was immense and the fever was high. ABC's television series Lost was in its first year and I remember being engrossed in the episode that was on, but the pain was so great I had to take my medicine and fall asleep.

Eventually I had surgery on the back of my neck and I really wanted to post the pictures of what my neck looked like after the surgery, but have decided it would be to graphic to show. I know my step-mom nearly fainted when they showed her how to pack my "hole in my neck".

I mention in my book that this was a major event, but it has taken five years to realize just how major it was. Up until those painful, lonely nights I didn't really know what isolation meant. Then everything hit me and I was able to think upon how lucky we were to get out of Kenya alive ("a couple years later that same mob killed a German couple, according to news reports I read).

Being alone is something my mind has always wanted, but it was laying in that hospital bed with a 104+ degree fever that allowed me to know what being on the spectrum meant. With my first chapter I wrote I began the process of acceptance, but it took a bulging mass of MRSA to kick it into my mind that all of my social faults were not 100% my fault.

The biggest thing that happened on the final night before the surgery was that I allowed myself to forgive myself. For that my writing became even stronger and more unafraid.

The final major event of 2005 took place on December 8th. Once again my writing had slowed down, but what I was writing was writings that were unafraid and pure.

I have watched every episode of NBC's The Apprentice with Donald Trump since the beginning. During the fourth season the final task for Randal, who would eventually win and becom the Apprentice, was to run a charity event sponsored by Outback Steakhouse to benefit the upstart charity, Autism Speaks.

Randal met with Suzanne Wright in the episode and she mentioned that her goal was to, "Give those who can't speak a voice" and that quote has stuck with me. I become fixated on that line because some of the people up to that point in time described my works in almost the same way.

A writing explosion occurred (that's what I call a time period where I write a bunch of stuff that is usually my best pieces of works. I had one last Thursday!) and I fired off some of my best concepts after that.

Mrs. Wright's comment on that episode of the Apprentice turned the tide in my writing. Up until that point I never truly thought of my potential impact. Yes, I know I mention in my book that it was my first trip to Kenya that I thought my stuff could be a book, but thinking it could be a book and thinking that people might get something out of it, truly understand and learn from it, are two different things.

So here I am now. If you are new to my blog I would hope you would take the time to read my "Autism Awareness Month" entry from early April to read even more about this topic. But, for now I know that I may not be the voice for all those that can't speak as each case of autism is going to be different, but if I can, through my writings, give parents and care givers just a glimmer of insight into how our minds work then all those nights of anguish and pain will have been worth it.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to the next 50, 150, 500, and even 1000 blog posts in the future!


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  3. I'm so glad I discovered your blog. It has given me great insight. It makes me wonder if some of the things you say may be applicable to my granddaughter. She is four and a half and, though not on the Aspberger's part of the spectrum, what might you have in common? It is an adventure each and every day with her.