This post was originally published at http://lifeandink.com/2012/04/30/life-and-inks-letter-to-i-wish-i-didnt-have-aspergers/ and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
LIfe and Ink’s Letter To “I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers”
“I wish I didn’t have Aspergers.”
That’s a loaded sentence.
I have thought a lot about what I would say to someone who had that thought.
First, I would say I understand.
I would say you are not alone.
I would say I know some of the challenges.
I would say that there was a brief moment when I wished I could have played God and taken 30 points off my son’s high intellectual IQ. I would have added those 30 points to his extremely low social skills IQ in hopes a higher number would magically alleviate the social struggles he had.
I would be dishonest if I didn’t say I had that thought.
But it is my intent to be honest with you.
And, well, I am not God.
So I couldn’t change his IQ distribution.
Besides, when I did the math, even with a 30-point rearrangement he would have remained gifted, but still be two standard deviations below the norm socially.
So why bother.
Moreover, why spend valuable time wishing I could change my son. Yuck.
Instead we focused on accentuating his strengths, his gifts.
Everyone has gifts.
YOU have gifts.
So, the next thing I would say to you is let’s sit down and have tea and together discuss the gifts that come wrapped up in packages we call Aspergers.
* * *
My son Ted is 20. He was diagnosed with Aspergers when he was 4.
He is the most interesting person I know.
He fascinates me really.
He is honest. He is cutting. He is smart. He is insightful.
He laughs more than anyone I know.
He has more self-awareness than any adult I know and I often wonder if because of Aspergers, he is free from the confines those who are called neurotypical create for themselves.
He thinks for himself rather than being swayed by popular opinion, even when its been difficult to do so.
It’s awesome actually to think how he lives in a world where he is not perpetually worried about what others think.
Do they like me?
Do I look okay?
Am I smart enough?
Do I fit in?
Free. Totally free from all of that while maintaining the strength of character to exist against the grain and maintain his individual identity. That is strong stuff and I don’t believe individuality like his gets nearly the credit it deserves in our sheeple, keep up with the Joneses culture.
In addition to not being swayed by popular opinion, Ted is neither interested in, nor motivated by material things. Instead he is absorbed by ideas.
Questions of religion, history, physics and philosophy fascinate him and armed with a photographic memory, his depth of knowledge on topics is awesome. And so much of it is self-taught. For when other kids were doing other-kid-things, Ted was reading. Our extroverted culture has called him a loner, even a loser for his pursuits. He sees it differently. He pridefully calls himself smart.
It’s a matter of perspective and for Ted all he has ever asked of the world is, if not to understand his perspective, to at least respect it enough to be kind to him.
When he was little, because of his different interests, he was called a “loser”, “sick boy” and “weirdo” by his peers. The so-called normal kids. He hit those kids. In all the episodes Ted was involved in, and believe me there were a lot, when the situation was looked at closely he was not the initial perpetrator. It was just a guileless Teddy, who acted for all to see, who got caught, punished and told he had to change.
But see, Teddy didn’t have to change, not fundamentally, he just had to be refined, taught how to behave in social situations. Thank goodness for all those intellectual IQ points, because he was able to learn to adapt. He was born with all the tools, all the gifts he needed to succeed.
And he did succeed.
He adjusted. Now the world needs to do the same.
See, we didn’t have to rearrange the IQ distribution after all.
I didn’t have to play God, I just had to be mom and help him learn to use what he had been given so he can help himself.
So finally, the last thing I would say to you is think about your gifts, your talents and how you can make them shine. You are made how you are supposed to be made, you are not supposed to be changed or redistributed.
For your are beautiful.
You are beauty wrapped in Aspergers.
In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it. Michelangelo
This post is part of the #AutismPositivity2012 FlashBlog. To read more about the Project, please go here!