This post was published originally at http://www.autism-island.com/2012/04/autism-island-to-i-wish-i-didnt-have.html and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
Let me start by saying feelings are never wrong. To feel upset, sad, alone, and whatever other feelings that lead you to typing, saying, or thinking, the words “I wish I didn’t have autism” or “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers” aren’t wrong. They are there and they are real. Although I do not have autism or Aspergers, I am the parent of a beautiful little girl who does have autism. Although she is only 4 and not yet very verbal I think there are days that she might also think “I wish I didn’t have autism.” I think a few of the reasons she might think this are because she feels different, she feels alone, and having autism is hard.
I am sure you feel different from the world around you. You think differently; you may communicate differently; you have different kinds of interests; you may see, hear, feel, everything in the world around you a bit differently. Now I want you to think about Pablo Picasso. He is one of the most well-known and celebrated painters to date. Look at his fabulous painting Dora Maar au Chat painted in 1941. It is absolutely different. The colors, lines, perspective, distortions, just about everything about it is different; and that is what makes it WONDERFUL! This painting recently sold for $95.2 million dollars. Can you imagine something so different being worth so much?
You might be saying to yourself right now “I’m not a painting” and you’re right you aren’t. But just like the Doar Maar au Chat painting what is different about you is SO wonderful. How boring would this world be if everyone was the same? If everyone fit into the mold we were given and thought the way others thought. First it would be duller then watching paint dry, second nothing good ever would have happened. The guy who invented the wheel had to think differently. The guy who realized the world was round had to think differently. Even Steve Jobs had to think differently to come up with the amazing iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
The fact that you are different may be one of the greatest things about you. You have different ideas and perspectives. You have different insights. You have so much to teach the rest of us. Embrace what is different about yourself. It is wonderful!
I can imagine having autism or Aspergers may make you feel very alone at times. Because you are different (which we already know is wonderful) it may feel like others don’t understand you. I think people are going to fall into 3 categories here: those who understand because they themselves have autism of Aspergers; those that don’t understand but want to; and those who don’t matter anyway.
There are many people with autism and Aspergers who are coming to the fore front to address autism awareness and acceptance. Obviously Temple Grandin is an amazing advocate for those with autism. She understands because she thinks differently too. Carly Fleischmann is such an amazing woman with autism as well. Then there is Kerry Magro who also has autism and embraces it and spreads awareness and acceptance. Then there is John Elder Robinson who has Aspergers and 2 books about what that is like. You are not alone in having autism and Aspergers. These are a few notable people but there are people in every city with autism of Aspergers. They might be right next to you as your walking around. Reach out and you will find them. They will understand what you are going through. I don’t know Temple Grandin, Carly Fleishmann, or John Elder Robinson… but I do know Kerry Magro. If you need a friend who understands reach out to Kerry. I know he will respond!
Then there are those of us who don’t understand but want to. I know that I want so badly to understand my daughter Skylynn. I want to understand her needs, wants, and thoughts. The fact that I don’t always understand does not make Skylynn’s and mine relationship less and it does not mean that I won’t do everything in my power to help her, whether I understand or not. Give those of us who don’t always understand a chance to understand. When I work really hard to understand Skylynn, and she works really hard to help me understand her, our relationship is stronger than if it would have all come naturally. It might be harder, but we are stronger for it. You might have to work harder to help those of us in the typical world understand. But please help us understand. We want to understand!
Then there are those who don’t want to understand. We can’t pretend they don’t exist. They are bullies and jerks. We have all run into them and we are all scarred because of them. I wish I could tell you that with work they will all understand. What I can say is that with work many of them will understand. But for a person to understand they have to want to understand. Some just don’t want to. When you run into these people, realize it is them not you, and move on. Don’t let their ignorant ways bring you down. They are sad people who want to bring others down with them. Don’t let them bring you down because then they win.
Don’t let those who don’t want to understand make you feel alone. Reach out to others with autism or Aspergers, and to those around you who want so badly to understand. You are not alone. You have a whole community, we are with you!
Autism and Aspergers have many difficulties. But having autism or Aspergers does not mean you are broken, you are less than, or that you are not wanted. You are perfect just as you are, in all your wonderful uniqueness. You may have gone through countless hours of therapy to get where you are at; you may have struggles that many people don’t have; all of this that makes you stronger. Think of everything you have been through so far. Think of every mountain you have climbed, every accomplishment you have made. Think of the people in your life who love you and want to help you reach every dream you have. Think of the autism community out there working diligently for awareness and acceptance. All of this makes you stronger. So when autism and Aspergers is hard, rely on this strength.
If you feel some days that you wish you didn’t have autism or Aspergers that is ok. You have every right to feel that way. However, I hope that you stop and think about how wonderful you are with autism or Aspergers. You are unique. Don’t underestimate how great that is. You have strengths, abilities, perspectives, and a community that so many others don’t. Rely on these to lift you up on the hard days and use them to help you soar on the good days. Don’t underestimate how wonderful you are, how much you have to offer the world, and what a wonderful life you have before you.
You are absolutely perfect just as you are! I love all your unique ways, like the 5 stuffed fish that were required to help bake cupcakes last week. I know you have a long hard road in front of you. But you are strong, and when you feel weak please let me be your strength. If there is one thing I want to teach you above anything else it is that you are absolutely perfect just as you are. I cannot say this enough. As we grow together; as you learn and develop and grow; through all of your struggles and successes; please always remember this. I love you and am so honored to be your mom. Once again, please remember, you are absolutely perfect just as you are!