Painting With Picasso to “I Wish I Didn’t Have Asperger” #AutismPositivity2012

This post was originally published at http://paintingwithpicasso.blogspot.com/2012/04/painting-with-picasso-to-i-wish-i-didnt.html and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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Painting With Picasso to “I Wish I Didn’t Have Asperger” #AutismPositivity2012

For some background on this post, please read this – Autism Positivity Flash Blog.

Someone googled “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers” and it took them to someone else’s blog.  The blog owner felt sad that someone got to the blog through that google search.  No one knows who did the search, or whether they’re younger or older, male or female.

In response to that, many bloggers are writing a post to the searcher to respond and help to offset some of the frustration the searcher must be feeling.

I’ve spent a few days thinking how I’d like to address this.  Even if I’d like to address this.  There are so many others out there who seem more qualified that I do, to respond to “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers”. What might I have to say that they’re not going to say?  The answer to that is “probably nothing” – probably most of what I might say will be written / shared by others who will also share a post for the Autism Positivity Flash Blog.

So why address this?  I’ve worked with kids with special needs, I have my own child with special needs.  Someday, it may be my own kid googling “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers” and so I want to think about what I’d say.

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Dear Friend Who Googled “I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers”
Hello. My name is Becky.  I’m a special education teacher by trade, but first and foremost, I’m a mom.  I have a son who has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, along with Sensory Processing Disorder, and a few other things.
That being said, all of that means that I understand my son’s Asperger diagnosis.  I don’t want you to think that my son’s diagnosis means I understand you.  I used to think that, but I’ve learned that when you know one person with Autism, you know ONE person with Autism.  Everyone’s diagnoses affect them so much differently.
I know that a lot of life is frustrating for my son.  I have met other people with Asperger Syndrome who say that life is frustrating for them as well.  I can imagine that you feel the same way.  I know it’s hard to watch my son try to function in settings that are not designed with him in mind – large groups, excessive noise (even if it doesn’t seem excessive to me), people who ask rapid-fire questions, lights that blink, a room with lots of sounds.  The developmental pediatrician, the psychologist, the therapists, and his regular pediatrician describe him as the kid in the group who has to work the hardest to keep up.  No wonder he comes home from an outing and just “crashes”.  I know that, theoretically, you learn coping skills as you grow to make things a little easier for yourself.  I know that when things are easier, it does not mean that they are easy.
There are many different aspects to each person’s diagnosis, and I don’t know what yours are.  I don’t know if you struggle with noises or if people speak too fast.  I don’t know if you can do math extremely well, or if reading and language arts are easier for you.  I don’t know if you do OK in social settings or if you avoid them at all costs.
I do know, that by googling “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers” you came across one of the most supportive groups of people you’ll ever find.  I hope you have a great support system around you – friends, family, maybe educators, maybe people in the workplace.  But maybe you don’t.  If you need support, we’re here.  Find us on Twitter, Facebook, in the blogs.  Don’t be afraid to let someone know that you need support.  As parents, we’re genuinely interested in your well-being.  As parents of kids with special needs, we know, first-hand, the support you need on a daily basis.  And we’re here.
My son has Asperger Syndrome, like I said.  While I wish that I could fix a lot of the issues he struggles with, I’m not interested in fixing him.  See, there’s nothing WRONG with him.  Nothing.  And there’s nothing wrong with you either.  Nothing.  What there is, is a lack of understanding among other people.  We’ve had to go to battle for him more than once, with people who didn’t understand the struggles he faces daily, or with people who didn’t think he needs some of the accommodations that he needs.  A lot of it is that people just don’t understand.  They think they do, but until you’ve worked with someone with special needs, or parented someone with special needs, you don’t really understand what all is involved even in just a day in the life of someone with special needs.   We understand that it’s probably similar for you – you’ve probably come across a lot of people who *think* they understand you, or think that you should be typical because you look typical.  You know what?  Being “typical” robs you of the chance to be UNIQUE!
We wouldn’t take away our son’s Asperger Syndrome.  We work hard to get him the therapies he needs, to teach him the strategies he needs to be successful in his young life.  We appreciate his sense of humor that is often even funnier *because* of the Asperger Syndrome.  We recognize his struggles and are doing all we can to help him.  We approach life with him by thinking outside the box.  He doesn’t fit into the “typical kid” box and so we can’t approach life with him in “typical” ways.  We want to help him cope with the things he struggles with, and accept the wonderful gift that he is to us – and his Asperger diagnosis is a part of who he is, but it’s not a bad thing.  He has Asperger Syndrome like he has light-colored hair, or like he has brown eyes.  It’s a part of him and another in a long list of awesome traits that make him who he is and who we love.

It’s the same with you – the spectrum issues are part of who you are. While you can’t change the diagnosis, or alter what makes you the wonderful person you are, there are many options to help you in areas where you feel you struggle.  I hope that you have a way to find some of those resources.  I hope that you have friends and family you can reach out to.  You were created to be uniquely you; fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are a unique and special gift and we hope that you can find peace in that.

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