Seeing Asperger’s with a Thankful Heart

A few years ago, K became quite upset. The details are fuzzy, but it likely involved a would-be friend who let her down or something else that people do to make like complex and frustrating. Asperger’s, to K, means Sensory Processing Disorder, which effects how she experiences life. Sometimes, this means shoving hands over ears or choosing comfort over fashion – then taking the glares and utterances that come with being different. It also means having a different way of relating socially. Sometimes, things are ok. Other times? Well…I don’t need to elaborate, do I?

But mom, here, is a mother. When her baby is upset, she wants to change things and “make it all better.” (I can see K’s face reading the last sentence. It’s gooey and saccharin. And she’s not a baby anymore. Fact: kids with autism grow up.)

Back to the moment above.

As tears streamed down her cheeks, she ranted and the word “Asperger’s” came out. I was honest. I asked her if she wished she didn’t have it. Her answer? Sure, it makes her “different,” but it’s a part of what makes her her. No, she wouldn’t change it. She’s an Aspie. She’s Queen. The problem? It’s what Tony Attwood said in a Future Horizons conference ages ago. The problem isn’t the Aspie, it’s all the others. It’s being forced to fit in boxes instead of wide open spaces. Of being told how to act instead of being accepted for the way we express ourselves. Of being shamed instead of accepted, despite how trendy it is to say we should accept differences of others. It’s living among people who pander to you “because, ya know, like charity means playing with the special kids and, like, look how cool that will look on my college app” sort of mindset.

Sorry. Did not mean to pull out the rant. If nothing else, maybe it will let you know you aren’t alone, whether you are a mom who sees this all unfold or an Aspie who feels it, knows it is all too real – and ridiculous.

After that storm faded, the truth was still on the table. Asperger’s is a part of her and changing it would change….her. I wouldn’t change her for the world.

It’s Thanksgiving in my country this week. As I type, I’m reminded it’s tradition to convey things that make me thankful before this week comes to a close. There is a reason I shared this this week. It’s a long winding road to get to my point, for sure. My point is I’m thankful for Asperger’s.

Yes, I said that. You read it right. I am thankful for Asperger’s and what it teaches, what it is.

Asperger’s is another way of thinking, of experiencing life. Living with an Aspie opens our minds to seeing the world in color, where before it was all monochrome. And, yes, there are many who act to train Aspies to see in grayscale instead of rainbows. Because that’s how “everybody else views life.” (To be clear, talking here about those who work to change their world view, not expand it.) But we’d rather live with color.

As a mom, ASD taught me how to stand up for someone in all sorts of circumstances. And, let’s face it, how not to, too. Personal growth is good for all of us, isn’t it?

Asperger’s Syndrome makes me question my own actions and motives, and how I communicate (or don’t). And it’s shown me the apple doesn’t fall far from this tree.

The Autism Spectrum teaches the loudest voices aren’t always the wisest. But some of the loudest voices (that are wise) may be incapable of whispering. (“MOM I AM USING MY INDOOR VOICE!”)

Asperger’s shows us what true passion is and that anyone can be an expert on something, as long as there is passion attached to it. As K told me recently, “Don’t call it a Special Interest, Mom. I just happen to like a lot of things a lot.” *drops mike*

On a personal note, living life with the Autism Spectrum has introduced me to so many wonderful, amazing people! People who enrich my own world view, who challenge me to think deeper. People who make me smile and add joie de vivre when I question all that comes with this life’s path.

As always, that’s more than enough from me. What are you thankful for? What about Asperger’s makes you smile? Surely, there’s something. If not, it’s likely you are listening to the voices of those who live in a monochrome world. Choose living amid rainbows, even if gray is your favorite color.

Wishing you all the best,

  • Julie

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