Monday, April 30, 2012
'This is not what I signed up for' to ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers': #AutismPositivity2012
Dear 'I Wish I Didn't Have Aspergers',
I heard you were feeling down, and looking for some help out there in cyber space. I wish I was close to you and could offer you some help face to face. I wish I could sit in a room with you and ask you what is bothering you. I wish you could tell me what is on your mind. But we can't do that. So I am writing you this letter.
Did you notice my name- 'This is not what I signed up for'? Apsergers caught me by surprise as a parent. For a while I was quite cranky about it. But when I learned about it, and what it meant in my life my feelings began to change. You see, even though I don't know you, I understand your struggles. I have a 13 year old son who has Aspergers. I have adult friends who have Aspergers. I have family members I suspect to have Aspergers. Aspergers is all around me. And the people around me who have Aspergers all have things in common. So even though we've never met, I know a few things about you.
I know that you feel alone a lot of the time.
I know that for you being in a room full of people doesn't make you feel less alone.
I know that you struggle to understand other people, what they do, and what they expect from you.
I know that school would be very difficult for you.
I know that you notice when other people laugh or make fun of your differences.
I know you struggle with anxiety and self doubt.
I know that sometimes things and places are just too loud, or bright, or too busy for you, and so you choose to keep away from them.
I know that people misunderstand your hesitance to get involved as aloofness or lack of caring.
I know that you care about what other people think and feel.
I know that you are smart.
I know that you have a great sense of humour.
I know that if someone gets to know you they will find the most loyal and giving friend anyone could ask for.
I know that you are a problem solver, and you spend time thinking deeply about really important things- things that if enough of us paid attention to and listened to those of you who think about them could really, truly make the world a different, better place.
I know you are persistent- you will try and keep trying at something until you figure it out and get it right.
I know you are creative, and enjoy expressing yourself in situations where you feel safe and comfortable.
I know you have so much to offer to people who will slow down and pay attention.
I know that I wish there were more people in the world just like you.
And I wonder if you know all these things about yourself?
Do you know how amazing you are?
Do you know that even though there are some things about having Aspergers that are hard (really really hard), that there is so much hope for you?
Do you know that you are a person who has so much to offer?
Do you know that feeling alone and unheard is not your fault?
Do you know that there is nothing wrong with you? That being a bit different is not wrong or bad, it is just... different.
Do you know that the fact you have to work harder than others at many things does not make you worse, or less? Do you know that it makes you better and braver and stronger?
I hope you know these things. I hope that even when things are hard for you, you can remember them. And I hope that if you don't know them, or struggle to remember them, that you will find my letter to you, and you will read it. I hope you will believe me when I say that I understand you well enough to know that you are GREAT. Just. How. You. Are. And if other people don't bother to find that our for themselves then that is their loss.
Please let me reassure you- there are people out there who will appreciate you for being yourself. All the adults I know personally who have Aspergers are happily married, and have children, and jobs. They have found the people in this world who accept them, and they are doing well in this life, Apsergers and all!!
Hang in there- you will find the people who will be your friends and your family. They will be worth waiting for, because they will not expect you to be anything other than what you are. They will love you and enjoy being with you because of the Aspergers-y things about you, not in spite of them. I bet they are out there now- looking for you. Keep your eyes open- look for them too- because when two people are looking for each other, they find each other, and the effort of looking is worth it.
Do you know that you will be OK? Really, truly OK. Do you know that if you use your amazing persistence you will get through this time of feeling down about life and you will go on to find your place. You will realise what it is you can offer to the world, and how to go about offering it. And the world will be grateful that you are here, and that you persisted and that you figured out how to be OK.
Do you know that there are people out there who would be honoured to help you on that journey? Sometimes we have to go and ask for help from a doctor, psychologist or counsellor, or a friend or parent or sibling. Not everyone knows how you feel without being told, but if you tell them, they'll do everything they can to help you get to that place where you are OK.
Do you know that the world needs you? It needs you with your Aspergers. Because with out Aspergians in the world we would be missing out on a great perspective on life that many of us don't have. My son looks at the world in a way that has taught me to slow down, to be patient, to persist, to communicate clearly and with tolerance. He has taught me to be a better person. And the world needs better people. People need the opportunity to her better than they were. We need people like you to show us how to do that. I need people like you to help me continue to be a better person.
Do you know that YOU are valuable in so many ways?
Please don't feel bad about having Aspergers. Please don't feel bad about being yourself. YOU are a unique individual. YOU are important. YOU are much needed. If you were my son I would do everything I could to make sure you know that. Maybe you don't have anyone in your life who can tell you that right now. Maybe you do? Please look around you. Is someone trying to tell you? Please listen.
I hope this letter reaches you. I hope many similar letters and messages reach you in your life. I hope you look for them.
I will look for you. And if I see you I promise I will accept you just how you are and tell you as often as I can how much I appreciate you and how wonderful you are.
Because it is true.
With all my best wishes for a great future,
'This is to what I signed up for'
(but I am glad it is what I got)
For the history to this post, please look here