30 Days of Autism to ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers’: a letter to my son #AutismPositivity2012

To ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers/Autism’: A letter to my son

I have written three posts over the past few days… none of them this one. I have worried about saying the wrong thing, offering useless platitudes, or trite words of encouragement. I wanted to write something meaningful, and hopeful, prideful, and helpful.

I have been waiting for the muse…

But it has not really come.. and so … and thus – I must just write to you and offer what leaks out of my fingers and onto the keyboard.

Writing mirrors life.

Sometimes there are no magic words.

Avoidance will not get the job done.

Sometimes it is just hard work.

Sometimes we need to take the next step – even when we are uncertain of the destination – or the ending of the story, and we must be heartened to know that at least we are still moving and choosing a direction.

Through my observations, my interactions with you, and my discussions and friendships with autistic adults, I understand that your path is not an easy one.

I understand that you process and think differently than many other people and that you experience the world in a way that many do not understand.

I understand that the world may come at you unevenly and that your response may at times appear uneven. I see that there are times when the words to express your experience elude you. Sometimes your words don’t match the narrow cookie cutter definition of what is expected. Sometimes you are anxious and overwhelmed by these expectations – you realize they are there – but you are not always successful in unraveling and detecting them.

What I would like for you, my son, and others who experience the world differently – is to feel that you are accepted and loved this very day – for who you are and your unique way of interfacing with the world. I want you to feel that you are perfectly loveable this very moment and that you do not have to change a thing to be worthy of that love.

I want you to be able to live a life free of shame and misjudgment.

I want to tell you not to listen to the media proclaim that ‘autism is an epidemic, or a tragedy.’ This path that you are on is difficult enough – without feeling that autism makes you somehow less. I want to encourage you to feel a healthy indignance about these attitudes – and then put that feeling into action and work along side those of us who are committed to increasing autism pride, understanding, and acceptance.

I want you to know that there are people out here that do understand and care. There is a whole world of people in the autism community who are connecting on facebook, on Twitter, through gaming and other online groups, and through special interest activities. Some of these people are NT (neurotypical – like me), some are parents of autistic children (also like me), and some are adults on the spectrum (like your Dad). We welcome you and your voice and your perspective.

You matter!

Sometimes you do not fit in the box. In fact – you seldom do… and there are many out there who see this as a good and admirable thing. You have a way of seeing the world that is fresh, unique, creative, poetic, and you help me to see it from a different angle. This is the gift you offer those around you.

I understand that you may be seeking a way to feel that you have worth and that you matter – as you pick your steps and navigate your way through a world that seems to be created for neurotypicals, and that rewards homogeneity and extroversion. I understand that you have felt misunderstood, judged, and that this can weigh heavily upon you…

But I have hope…

You asked me once if it was good or bad to have autism. We were in a parking lot, heading into a store. You were about 6 or 7 or 8…

You caught me off guard… and I muddled my way through, as I so often seem to do.

I reached out into the nothingness and hoped for something useful to fall into my mind so I could explain to you. What came to me was cookies cookies and autism:

Sweetheart – do you like chocolate chip cookies?

Yes!

Well – sometimes there are cookies with chocolate chips and sometimes instead of that they have M&Ms? Both are cookies and both have chocolate in them.. right??

Mmmm-hmm

One isn’t better than the other – they are a little bit different- but they are both good. Well, that is a little like autism: you think a little bit differently than most people – it is like a cookie with M&Ms instead of chocolate chips. It is still a cookie… it still has chocolate – it is still good… it is just a little bit different. It is OK to be different – that is what makes the world interesting.

Oh… OK! This is a metaphor – right Mom?

At that age – my explanation completely satisfied you.

However, and although it saddens me to consider it, I suspect there will come a time when it may be you that googles “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers/Autism.” I hope that you may find this letter – or another – that gives you hope to know that you are valued and appreciated for what you bring to this world. I hope that you find support, and hope, and messages of pride that strengthen you when you may be feeling vulnerable.

And I hope – that in the future – these messages of positivity will seem archaic relics of a time gone by – because all the world can appreciate the beauty and strength of the kind of diversity you represent.

Love Mom x0x0x0x

________________________________________________________

30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2012)

I am not the only one who has a positive perspective to share with you. Please click this button to find an entire blog devoted to supporting you, set up by “Thinking About Perspectives,” a group of people who care, including myself and some spectacular friends of mine. 

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About Leah Kelley

Leah Kelley, MEd., Educator, Parent, Speaker, Social Justice Activist. Writes blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding & neurodiversity. Co producer of documentary: Vectors of Autism. Twitter: @leah_kelley Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/leahkelley13/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/30-Days-of-Autism-Leah-Kelley/154311301315814
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17 Responses to 30 Days of Autism to ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers’: a letter to my son #AutismPositivity2012

  1. DJ Kirkby says:

    A beautiful hug of a blog post! I posted here: http://djkirkby.co.uk/2012/04/to-i-wish-i-didnt-have-aspergers/ about my perspective of being an adult with autism.

    • Leah Kelley says:

      Thank you for dropping by my site and leaving such a sweet comment and a link to your Autism Positivity post! This is such important work we are taking on as a community and I am so pleased you have participated. I am hoping that you will please consider having us publish your post on the Autism Positivity site : http://autismpositivity.wordpress.com/submit-an-entry/

      We’d love to include your post as a part of the body of support available for those who may be struggling.

  2. Oh, I love the cookie analogy! Because if *all* we had were chocolate chip, we’d soon have enough of them. Very sweet, in more ways than one.

  3. Pingback: #AutismPositivity2012 To “I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers” « Ever So Gently

  4. Love this one, Leah – so heartfelt and in so many ways mirrrors what I would love to tell my own children. I love the Chocolate chip cookie analogy and can only hope that I have such a smart answer when one of my guys asks a similar question. {{hugs}} What a great letter to your son and others who need that positivity boost. (I linked to my post in the URL spot so I think if you click my name it will take you to my own post, which is not at all as elegantly stated as yours!)

    • Leah Kelley says:

      Thank you Katrina. Your comments and support really mean so much to me… Thank you also for linking up your post and participating in this Flash Blog event! It is a proud and hopeful time for the autism community. Spectacular!!
      Hugs,
      Leah

  5. solodialogue says:

    Beautifully written. I share your hope.

  6. Jewelles Smith says:

    “I understand that the world may come at you unevenly and that your response may at times appear uneven. I see that there are times when the words to express your experience elude you. Sometimes your words don’t match the narrow cookie cutter definition of what is expected. Sometimes you are anxious and overwhelmed by these expectations – you realize they are there – but you are not always successful in unraveling and detecting them.”
    –this was exactly what I needed to read today, and share with my own son. Yesterday was a day full of misunderstanding/miscommunication and general unevenness. thank you.

    • Leah Kelley says:

      Ah… yes! We have days like that at our house too.

      Thank you so much for your comment. You encourage me to know that this work we are all doing to support out kids is making a difference.

  7. Pingback: Autistic Pride Day | Timotheus "Pharaoh" Gordon

  8. 1funmum says:

    I’m baking cookies with m&ms in it for my sons:)

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