November, the Month of Thankfulness and my Aspie

Happy November! In my part of the world, this is the month we set aside to have a thankful outlook. Amidst pumpkins and turkeys, plus stores blaring Christmas music way too soon, social media is filled with people talking thankfulness. From posting a thankful thought each day to merely taking a break from materialism, I’ve always enjoyed reading what others are thankful for.

As I get older the things I am thankful for are increasingly complex. Our Aspergirl is away at college and unable to come home for our country’s holiday at month’s end: Thanksgiving. At first, it was hard having her so far away on a holiday that focuses on family. That first Thanksgiving without her at the table was unspeakably overwhelming. And, yes, I cried a lot that first autumn she stayed back at school. But, through the tears I was incredibly thankful. And that thankfulness brought on an even greater flood.

If you’ve read my book, “Asperger’s in Pink,” you know why. There were struggles along with the glitter. When K was in elementary school the thought of college was hard to grasp. We knew she was smart enough to do it, but other aspects related to her Asperger’s made it a wild card. (For starters, she had an aide lined up for middle school so, “How on earth would she navigate a campus?” we worried.) The thought of her going away to college was a dream.

Fast forward several years. Not only did she make it to college, she made it into a Top Tier university. Due to its location (a plane ride away), class schedules, and the price of a ticket that time of year, flying home has never been in the cards. Thankfully, her school has a program for students who are unable to travel home. In fact, her school hosts a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Her college includes international students, and there are many; American students who stay on campus enthusiastically take this time to introduce this custom to them. It’s really sweet! Knowing she has a school family to spend the holiday with has been wonderful.

My husband and I can not express enough how this particular event in our lives overflowed our thankful hearts. Our Aspergirl worked so hard to get where she is. She plowed over doubts of others, bullying, and “having a label.” She did the hard work from OT to Group (and, of course, muttered about Group from sun up to sun down at times…), and more. It was a long road for her, but she carved a path to claim her own independence. That is huge. After all, don’t we want our kids to be able to support themselves and live as independently as they are able? Don’t all parents wish this?

The reality is that isn’t the end story for everyone and we know that. It’s one reason I’ve taken so long to write another book. The second half of our story, her story, is not reflective of most, but it is reflective of many Aspies. Maybe it’s reflective of your own experiences? Aspies can and do make contributions to the world that make life changing impacts! Make a choice to change the world for the better and you will.

Today, I want to take a moment to pass along thanks to all who have helped her get to such a pinnacle. These individuals include professionals to family, even our Yorkie! It also includes you. My readers have to be the best out there! So many of you have shared your stories, and for that I am both humbled and encouraged – you inspire K, too! (I always pass along your thoughts to her!) Your strength and fire keep the story of living with Asperger’s going. As I move to write fiction pieces that portray Aspies in a strengths-based light, you, along with my daughter, are the reason I return to the keyboard when I’m tired or doubting too many things. Thank you!

Enough about me! What are you thankful for on this journey? How would you create your own thankful list? Take time to think of things you are thankful for. And, no, you don’t have to share that list with anyone. Sometimes these things are better kept private, tucked away for a time with the sky fills with ice and the ground slips underneath our feet. (As a writer whose words are out there for all the world to critique and micromanage, and who continue to misunderstand Asperger’s, this is a practice I come back to time and time again.)

If you are new to this blog or my family’s work, our outlook is that Asperger’s is not something to be fixed. It is simply another mindset, another way of viewing life and the world that envelops each of us. We all have things we can improve upon. No one is perfect, whether on the Spectrum or not. As Dr. Frank Gaskill is known for saying, Asperger’s is “Human 2.0”. I agree. There’s a lot to celebrate about being an Aspie, as well as living with one!

My Human 2.0 graduates from college this year. She’s about the rock the world on an even greater scale. I can’t wait to see how she will contribute to the greater good! Whatever she does, it will leave a lasting, positive impact. And I’m beyond grateful for that. And Asperger’s is what makes her unique. And it’s something she’s told me she wouldn’t change about herself, either.

Happy November!

~ Julie

Want to share something you are thankful for? Leave a comment below; I’d love to read it! Please note comments are moderated. Keep your word choice at a “PG” rating as this post is a family friendly piece. Thanks!

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