Thursday, December 15, 2011


Yesterday I blogged about my thoughts of being diagnosed eight years ago and those thoughts stayed with me throughout the day. However, there was another reminder yesterday that I never could have predicted.

On Facebook, on the right hand side, it shows when it is people's birthdays. It just so happened, no more than 15 minutes after I finished writing "Diagnosis: 8 Years Later" that I noticed this birthday. Now typically I am the worst at wishing others happy birthday because I hate my own birthday and if I wished one person happy birthday I'd have to wish everyone a happy birthday and if I get to 5,000 friends I would have to devote a whole work day each day keeping up with birthdays. However, I saw the name of this birthday and was taken aback.

The birthday in question was the man that I wrote about back in July who had died. Yesterday would have been his birthday and that saddened me and I was thinking about writing a philosophical post that, with a thing like Facebook, a person never really is "gone" but the more I thought about it I wanted to do more than that and as I thought about that I realized that every bit of growth I've had came from someone giving me a chance.

The chance he gave was letting me give a presentation about auto racing at the organization I work at now. That was almost eight years ago and I had no presentation experience, but I was given the chance and because it was in my Kansas I was able to pull it off. I think back to before I was diagnosed and my job at the video game store and the fact that the store manager let me have the position. Granted, it might not have been for all the right reasons as he had said, "Aaron, you got the job because it was the worst job interview I have ever seen. To be honest, you were my science experiment and I didn't think you'd last two hours on the job." I lasted more than that and became of the district's #1 seller and that came from just a simple chance.

I look back on the past eight years and the progression I've had and I'm amazed. I'm still amazed at my job and the chance I was given here at TouchPoint. I don't fully remember the initial vision of my position, but I never would have thought I'd reach as many people as I've had and the response people have given me. All this came about because of one simple chance to do it.

Looking back, if I were someone else, I don't know if I'd have given me the chance. I look at the video game store, which was important in my social development and self-awareness, and there would be no way I'd hire myself. None! Would I have let me given a presentation on racing? Perhaps, but I didn't think I could do such a thing. And my first presentation, which was at the 2009 Missouri National Educators Association conference, well, I'm not sure. I forgot about that presentation which was opened up by a person giving me the chance to do it.

As I sat in thought yesterday evening I smiled at the thought of all these chances I've had. Sure, you could say I've worked hard honing my craft, but none of this would have come about if it weren't for each and every chance I've had. Each event in my life helped me prepare for the next and usually, outside the manager of the video game store, it was with the best of intentions.

I'm thankful for all these chances but I do want to give one warning. While I firmly believe us people with Asperger Syndrome have a huge amount of potential this doesn't mean to give a person a chance that you know they won't be able to do. Failure isn't taken all that well and I think back to the video game store and I wonder what would have happened if I would have only lasted two hours like the manager thought I would. It would have been devastating and it probably would have taken a long time to get over.

Today I am thankful for every chance I've got. Every chance set me up for the next and if it weren't for the chance at TouchPoint I may never have been discovered by my new publisher who found me through my blog (here's a shout out to the person who first contacted me. I've been told it's her last day at Penguin tomorrow so to her I say "thank you for the chance").

So what a ride it's been! I may not say it often, even though I do very much appreciate it, but to anyone ad everyone that has given me that chance, whether it is big or small, I say thank you. Without each and every chance you've given me in life I would not be who I am today. Every time I've traveled, or had a job, I've grown and without all the chances, well, chances are you would not be reading this today.

1 comment:

  1. That's very true. A lot of times, chances has to be earned and great opportunities are rarely handed to you on a silver platter.

    If one were to look at my OT journey, I have earned my dues to be where I am at today. I have a great professional network because I invested a lot of time in making myself a well rounded person in my field- in knowledge, enthusiasm, leadership capabilities, willingness to mentor others, and social communication!

    In my OT world, it all started when I regularly showed up at OT conferences. Then, I built on that by starting to present regularly and doing little things that may help me get noticed by the greater OT community. In doing these two things, I become a more and more intriguing person for my OT peers to get to know- students and professionals alike. Next, I started to get involved on the leadership arena as well. This and the previous acts I did before therefore have given the greater OT world that I am very enthusiastic for the profession. And since the OT world is small, good news travels fast. Hence, I have some oversea peers who know me pretty well, too! That said... if my social skills issues were not addressed as proactively as I have done, I don't think I would have as many opportunities that I have.

    In autism world, you can do the same thing. The more you do, the more people will give you chances. However, it's not only what you do in presentations that counts, it's also how you handle yourself outside that counts, too... and sometimes more. This includes social functions, meeting with people who may help you achieve your bigger dreams, legislative visits, etc.