I’ve lived eighteen years on this wonderful planet, but only in the last five have I known I was on the autism spectrum. I barely knew anything about the condition except for that people who had it were not treated kindly, there was an organization that supposedly strives to raise awareness, and they are often very smart. My own personal story has made me reconsider much of what I thought about autism and how I respond to what people say about us in the news. I used to think that if someone changed their opinion too much, they couldn’t make up their minds.
Now I know it’s essential, when gaining new knowledge and insight, to always be changing. You cannot gain and stay the same. At least I couldn’t.
The last five years of my life have easily been the best. I needed a window out of my confusing and easily angered childhood, but early on my Aspergers diagnosis only made me angrier. I hated this weird sounding name that made me feel more obvious than I already knew I was. What I needed was an example. I wanted to find someone, anyone, out there that was succeeding. If they could, in spite of our numerous limitations, then I could too. That’s when I discovered John Elder Robinson. I read his books, and more importantly than the information I gained, my entirely different outlook on my new life.
I wasn’t just the angry, confused, autistic kid.
I was the weird, informed, confident (and somewhat arrogant) autistic kid.
Over this time, my life has changed drastically. Some ways were obvious, like my need for music. I spend a great part of my life just listening to it, and I feel stronger when I do. The silence (without being silent) is immensely therapeutic, and I thrive when I have this balance. I’ve also gotten outside more often. Not only did my job require it, but I’ve felt the desire to get outside and, yes, even be around people. Contrary to the garbage that comes from Autism Speaks (among others), people with aspergers don’t mind being around people. In my individual case, it’s how many for how long. Being around two or three people for a couple hours is totally cool with me. Surround me twenty people for less time (funny, huh?) and I’m a disaster on the inside.
(The second, and most critical, part of this piece will feature tomorrow night. I hate to be so blunt with the ending but I wasn’t sure how to end)