This post was originally published at http://blog.friendshipcircle.org/2012/04/30/friendship-circle-to-i-wish-i-didnt-have-aspergers-autismpositivity2012/ and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
Friendship Circle to ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers:’ #AutismPositivity2012
Once upon a time, someone googled “I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers.”
The autism community noticed.
Today, April 30, 2012, bloggers around the world are sharing their positive messages about autism in response to that google search. The next time someone does a search on “I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers,” he or she will be directed to supportive blogs written by adults and adolescents with autism and Asperger Syndrome, parents of individuals on the autism spectrum, teachers and friends.
Maybe that person will decide to read this blog.
Autistic Thinking and Perceiving
I’m the mother of an 11 year old child with autism. I spent years in college and graduate school studying all kinds of beautiful, obscure subjects, but I never understood what autism was until my son was red-flagged for autism as a toddler. A door opened.
I always knew that my son had a different way of thinking and perceiving compared to most people; I knew because my thoughts and perceptions are so similar to my son’s. When he spoke in metaphors, I understood. When he recoiled in fear meeting new people, I remembered how it felt to be small in a world of big people. When the sound of the washing machine changing cycles startled him and made him cry, I remembered all the times I had been startled by noises or bright lights or strong flavors or sudden movements. He absorbed books and written words the same way I do.
I usually see Asperger Syndrome defined as “a type of high-functioning autism.” But that’s not accurate. Asperger Syndrome is a type of autism with no significant delay in language skills. For a person with Asperger Syndrome, anxiety, sensory intolerance and social obstacles can make day-to-day functioning very difficult. But not impossible.
Anxiety can prevent us from seeing beyond the present moment, especially if the present is a time of darkness. Sensory and social issues can feed into the anxiety and darkness. What is the antidote?
I’m from a family of creative thinkers. My brothers and I used to sit around after school and ask each other, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be? What would your superhero name be? What would your costume look like?”
By nature I’m a sleepy, slow-moving bookworm, so I would typically choose some dreamy superpower like flying or clairvoyance. It never occurred to me to choose something to overcome my hypersensitivity or my silence in social situations or my intense pre-occupation with the poetry of the ancient Roman Empire…because those were already my superpowers!
Everyone has a gift
Over the years, I discovered more gifts, a source of profound joy to me. Persistence carried me to surprising places. In graduate school I learned that I didn’t have to wait for inspiration, I could go out and find it for myself. My first son taught me to trust my maternal instincts.
I began to recognize others who were starting out on the same journey. I often hear people talking about wanting to be happy or pursuing their happiness. Joy is something much deeper than happiness. Joy sustains me even through insult, injury and loss. I still struggle with friendships and relationship skills, but I’m learning.
If you wish you didn’t have Asperger Syndrome, I say you should open that door. You will find a gift waiting for you inside.