Friday, June 8, 2012

Why I Wrote Finding Kansas

I now live by the motto, "Understanding is the foundation for hope." It wasn't always that way though...

Being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at the age of 20 was confusing. I mean, I had this diagnosis but didn't know what it meant and sadly, neither did my doctor. I was left to find out what it meant by myself so I did an internet search and the first thing I read, the very first thing I read said, "People with Asperger Syndrome will NEVER have a job, NEVER have friends and NEVER be happy."

After reading those lines it was as if my life ended. I instantly believed those words and tuned all other information about Asperger Syndrome out. I didn't believe there was hope and I slowly retreated from the world. I don't think anyone knew just how depressed I was because I never talked about my emotions.

I stayed this way for almost 15 months. I was bitter, hopeless, and angry at everything. Sometimes my dad would say, "I understand." but how could he? Then, 15 months after being diagnosed, I had had enough. I don't know what fuse blew in my mind, but I had to tell my dad who I was and why I was. Of course, I couldn't speak it, but I went to my computer and I started to write it.

There's a line in my book that says, "All I want is for someone to understand and maybe, just maybe, I will be free." That was the motivation for me to write and I never intended on it being a book that got published. All I wanted was for one person to understand who I was. I also didn't intend on creating a new vocabulary to describe the ways of the autism spectrum as I just wanted to describe to my dad in the best way possible the reasons why I do what I do.

My book is a journey through my thoughts and is at times sad, at times funny, at times hopeful, and most times emotional. As I was writing, I heard a speaker say that, "People on the autism spectrum don't have emotions," and that too was a big motivator for me to continue to write because I knew that I had never heard a bigger lie in my life. We have emotions, maybe more emotions than someone that is "normal," but we have the hardest of times processing it and then expressing it. I was like that my entire life until I discovered writing.

As I said, when I was writing Finding Kansas I never thought it would be something that would bring hope and understanding. From where I am now, I believe that we can have the highest autism awareness level possible and that still won't be enough because without understanding how can society know what it is? Without understanding how can parents make the right choices? This was the sole reason why I wrote. Nobody understood me and I couldn't speak what I thought or what I needed so I wrote to be understood and words can't express what it means to be when I hear from parents that, "through your book I now understand my son."

Finding Kansas available at and other book sellers.


  1. Yeh that's the problem, finding that one person who understands. This shows me that on the whole the general public just aren'tinterested in anything or anybody apart from themselves. They are selfish and judgmental.
    I totally understand my daughter, I can see exactly where she is coming from and others with ASD/ASP aswell, it isn';t that hard .. actually i find ASD/ASP a whole lot easier to understand than the so-called "normal" people. Sorry I'm waffling, well done Aaron - keep up the good work, you are an ainspiration :)

  2. I am an elementary teacher. Throughout my career I have had a few students who were considered to be on the autism spectrum. No two were the same. Each had beautiful gifts along with some struggles. I always tried as best I could to understand them as individuals. I heard an interview with you on the St. Louis NPR radio station in April, immediately found your book and read it. Thank you, Aaron, for helping me to understand my students better. You told me things they could not. I appreciate your allowing us into your world. Keep up your work. You are bringing a deeper understanding to all who care and who are lucky enough to be touched by your words. My hat is off to you.

  3. I have a husband and two children with Aspergers Syndrome and do try my utmost to understand them, certainly I have observed enough in 30 years to at least have a good foundation. I do have to say though that I still struggle at times to know how to help them, frequently hearing, "dont like being labelled" when I try to get them to accept their gift (which it very much is) but to use the knowledge to their advantage. My biggest struggle though is when explaining things to others - again "labels" keep entering the conversation, or just blank disinterested looks emerge. So you do have my empathy - if what I see and hear is, even in these supposedly enlighened age, what you face on a daily basis. I hope your book goes somewhere towards opening up very closed minds and wish you strength in the future.
    PS my husband was once told he couldnt possibly have AS because he was married - well he very much is, for 27 years and it has been a struggle for both of us at times, but just to give you some confidence, meet the right person (as it is for everybody) and marriage and family's are very possible.

  4. I was diagnosed four years ago when I was 43. I had jobs, I was able to hold jobs, but I was never able to advance beyond entry-level despite working hard and being extremely knowledgeable in my fields.

  5. Something compelled me to turn on the radio last Sunday morning, and there was a talk show on instead of rock music (my husband's car, I have a different station tuned in mine).

    Anyway, you were being interviewed and in ten minutes, I gained so much more insight about Asperger's, besides my own experience with my son and the students at his school (that I will be teaching part time next year.)

    I thank you for writing the book. It's on order for me, but the little bit of information given in ten minutes is SO very helpful for those of us trying to understand and research how to help those with Asperger's!

  6. Oh my, thanks for the kind words Suzanne

  7. Hello Aaron. Sorry for my english. My husband and my son have AS. My husband has a very important position in large areas financial and my son goes to school. My husband has been asked by other companies for key positions it is a true "workerollic." NEVER, NEVER give up is the word. My son, I think, is a follower of your blog because it speaks to me sometimes an older person he can see perfectly well what to say. "Mom you know me, but you can not fully know me" he tells me sometimes. I'll look in my country your book (I read better than I write in English). It will help to better understand my son. . Father was 43 years old when he made ​​the diagnosis of the child and also learned that he had AS. The moment was sad and worried for her son, but then surpassed when recalled everything he had done so far: 16/17 years was managing editor of a local newspaper, with 19 law student and taught, with the top 35 hit of his career. Better is impossible. The son will have a promising future as well, but different in other areas. THE FUTURE is also possible for patients with AS.

  8. Hello Aaron,
    My oldest son was diagnosed with Aspergers many years later. He is now 37 years old. As his mother, it was very frustrating to not have medical personel or school teachers listen. It was always that my son was considered lazy. Well finally we were referred to an awesome individual that has helped my son. There are days he is very frustrated. There are days he is OK. The emotions dont show either. I am glad that there are finally posts to help the "autistic community" come together. I hope some day it will even get better. Thank you!

  9. Linda,

    I do believe it is getting better each day. Are we where we need to be? No, but at my presentations I do hear of that great teacher who thought outside the box and made an everlasting impact. Sadly, I also hear of a horror story or two but those stories seem to be ebbing. However, just one horror story is too many and I hope someday we reach a point that there are none.

  10. Hello Aaron, I have AS too, it's nice to find a blog of a person who understand what happens with many of us, I was diagnosed at 22.


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  12. "People with Asperger Syndrome will NEVER have a job, NEVER have friends and NEVER be happy." Feh. I was 36 when I was diagnosed with Asperger's. And my response was "This explains everything".

    Since I finished school, the longest I've been without work was 3 months... and I spent two of those months goofing off. I've been with my current employer for 8 years. I have friends. I am happy. Whoever wrote the comment about never having job/friends/happiness knows not what they speak of.

    1. I wish I would've known that back then. It was a horrible intro and the information on the web is much better than it used to be.