Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Launch Day: My Story of One

Six months ago I shared the story of what it was like to come to Manhattan and meet my publisher. At the time it didn't seem real. To be honest, even last week it didn't seem real despite being able to hold copies of my book in my hand.

It started to sink in at an odd time; the drive two days ago was long and as midnight came and went and we were driving through the hilly terrain of Pennsylvania I finally realized that it was coming true and I was just a few days from being a "published" author. I may have finally realized it but then I asked, "Will anyone read it?"

As I wrote last week in a three part series (that link is to part one) I am a very unlikely author. I never intended on writing a book nor did I ever intend on being a speaker. What spawned my writing was my simple desire to tell my family who I was and why I was because speaking it was impossible. When I began, I didn't know if it had merit, but several professionals said it did so I continued.

That was then, this is now and today my book is launched! Yesterday though this prospect troubled me because what if only a handful of people buy it. What if only a handful of people show up at my speaking venues on my national autism awareness and understanding tour? These fears shook me to the point that Rob, my friend from Vancouver who is sort of acting like a personal assistant this month, said, "Aaron, is your mind frozen? You look lost!" I was.

I wanted to cry. Yes, I wanted to cry because I was afraid that my book may only be read by a few people. I also have this fear that within Missouri, when I speak at every presentation I do, I am sure no one is going to show up despite over 200 presentations that tell me otherwise.

In mid-afternoon, Rob and I took the "Top of the Rock" tour at Rockerfeller Plaza, AKA 30 Rock, and it was up there that a calmness began to set in. The view from the top was one I will never forget and was one of complete serenity. It was here that I thought back to all those nights and to all the times I questioned what it meant to have Asperger Syndrome. Back then there wasn't awareness like we have now (by the way, seeing the Empire State Building lit up blue was awesome!) and I had nothing but the garbage on the internet to believe about my future.

Being 70 floors up and being relaxed for the first time in a long time I realized that I am just one story. Yes, I wrote a book, and yes I hope everyone reads it, but I'm just one voice, one piece to the puzzle that is the autism spectrum. I'm sure there are other people out there who are just as confused as I was about their diagnosis and I'm sure there are family members and educators who are confused about what all this autism spectrum talk is. As I write this, there is a story on the news about the new numbers and each time I heard the "1 in 88..." I kept focusing on the "1" part; this is what I was thinking about atop 30 Rock.

When we finally headed down I was at peace with what may come. Will it sell 5, will it sell 100,000 over its lifetime? In the grand scheme of things, the things that get lost in those numbers gets lost. If I am concerned with the numbers I will lose track of the "one". For many years I was a one that was depressed, jobless, hopeless, and aimless. I believe that understanding is the foundation for hope. If those on the spectrum, like myself, can be understood by family members, the community, and the world the room for growth is expanded greatly. So yes, I may be an author and I was being blinded by the potential numbers, but I can't let this happen because for each one that is bought that is one life that could be changed. Granted, and obviously, the more the better but in the end if just one person is touched, if just one person has an "ah-ha" moment from my book or from one of my presentations, then this month will all be worth it.

Could I have had a blog in a celebratory fashion today proclaiming to the world that my book was out? Yes, and in fact I was trying to think of the best way of going about it in a video blog, but as I considered the person that I was, I concluded that that would have been a disservice to my journey.  It was a long, hard road to get to where I am and I am beyond thankful that I had one of the best days of my life in Manhattan yesterday, but that's now and the events in my book, "Finding Kansas" are the days when I simply wanted one person to know who I was. Now anyone will be able read the words I used to describe myself and the metaphors I used to help my dad better understand my quirks and also this book paves the way to the person that I am today. However, I may be proud but I can't go over the top, not on something like this. No "Yay!" no "Look at me! I'm king of the world." Nope, the only thing I can say is thank you to each and every person along the way that helped me, that never gave up on me, and gave me a chance to succeed. To all of you I say thank you for giving this "one" a chance.


  1. Definitely a blue shirt day, Aaron! May you continue to touch many "ones" with your generous spirit!

  2. I found your blog a few months ago, thanks to the great people at Touchpoint, and have been hooked ever since. Count me as "one" of the many you have touched and helped with your writing. It's because of you, Aaron, that i have a better view and understanding of my 8 year old son. I do not have the words to express how much i appreciate what you are doing. Your message is out there and will continue to help parents just like me. I bought FINDING KANSAS yesterday and almost finished it last night. I plan to buy more copies and give them to my family so they can see my son as i do - all thanks to you!

  3. Thank you Aaron- for being "ONE" with autism! You have given thousands HOPE!