Tuesday, November 8, 2016

To Know

Building on yesterday's To Not Know post I today state what it was like to find out about my diagnosis...

1.5 years after giving up at the video game store I finally had an answer in life. I now knew that I was on the autism spectrum and, unfortunately, my introduction was catastrophic with a quick search on the Internet because my doctor told me, “Good luck” so I looked it up on the Internet and the first thing read stated that, “People with Asperger’s will never have a job, will never have friends, and will never be happy.” This was not a good introduction and I gave up on life until I started writing Finding Kansas. This isn’t to say knowing is bad, but the introduction is key and one thing I tell parents is this, “If you don’t tell your child and they find out on their own and they look it up on the Internet then they may find a website like I found and they may want to give up like I did. If you tell them you control the information.”

            As I have mentioned in my books, many times I might add, I am an avid race fan and also I’m a flagman and back in 2010 I picked up a new racing series as their chief starter. The first car ride I had with the staff I was clear and I said, “Look, I have this thing called Asperger Syndrome and I’m not the most social of people out there. This means that if you all go out and eat after a race I’ll probably just go back to the hotel and order a pizza. This doesn’t mean I’m angry, or that I don’t like you, it just takes me a while to feel comfortable around a person, or group, so give me time. Please give me time.” And you know what? They did give me time. They didn’t force me into social situation and they were more than compensating and compassionate when it came to this matter. One time we went, after a race, to a restaurant which just happened to have a live band playing and if I didn’t know that I had Asperger’s this would have been a highly traumatic scene because I struggle around drums and there was a drum set there.

            If I didn’t know I wouldn’t have had the confidence to speak up and say, “This isn’t going to work for me.” Do you know how hard this is for me? Or others on the autism spectrum? Our ability to self-advocate in issues like this can be highly difficult if not impossible but since I knew that I had these issues not because I was weak or defective but because I’m just simply wired differently my ability to say this was fine. And those around me acted like it wasn’t a big deal and we went elsewhere.

            These stories might be the essence of knowing or not knowing. If a person doesn’t know they can only blame themself and the odds of speaking up when help is needed will be low. And if knowledge is still not there over time a darker and darker cloud will envelop the person until self-hatred has consumed the person. How do I know this? I was there and the difference between knowing and not knowing is great and I’m thankful I now know why I am the way I am and I’m glad I’ve been given the chance to do my part in getting the awareness and understanding of the autism spectrum up because there are no other options unless we are content with human potential being wasted which I, for one, am not.

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