Autism Positivity Flash Blog

An e-mail from the amazing writer at Outrunning The Storm:

A few weeks back, I got in one of my Google search term stats “I wish I didn’t have Asperger’s”.  It’s not the first time I’ve gotten something similar sadly. But, this time I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I don’t know for sure which post of mine they found but I do know it wasn’t what I want to say to this person. I spent some time talking with some blog friends of mine…and we came up with the idea of all posting a letter to this person with a title that would get Google to pull something positive.

Her e-mail made me sit back in my chair and think.  Those of us who write online know there are all sorts of ways that direct people to our blogs.  One of the top search terms that sends people my way (after several variations of “Try Defying Gravity”) is “Squirrels In My Pants”, thanks to a post I wrote using that song.  I feel terrible for the people looking for Phineas and Ferb who have somehow stumbled upon me and my stories.

But this search term “I wish I didn’t have Asperger’s” is different.  And it made me stop for a moment.

Who wrote this?

Was it a child with Asperger’s who was struggling and in pain?  Was it a parent responding to a statement made by their child?  Was it a teacher?  An adult?  Someone with Asperger’s looking to counsel someone who was not happy?

Who wrote it?

The thoughts swirled in my head, and at first I wasn’t sure I could write anything.  Without knowing the audience, what could I say?

Then I realized it didn’t matter who wrote it.  Someone did.  And whomever it was needed to know that a) it was okay to search for help and support online, and b) when they searched for that support, they needed to find love and acceptance and understanding.

**********

But what to say?

I can only speak as a parent of two children with autism spectrum disorder.

I can tell our google friends how incredible my kids are.  That with every turn they astound me with what they know and what they can do.

And I can tell them that I know that there are days when it is hard.  Very very hard.  I watch my kids struggle with conversations and team sports.  The things that Dr. Stephen Shore calls “The Hidden Curriculum” – the unwritten social interactions that can confuse so many.

But those struggles morph into incredible insights and perspective and success.  I have seen it.

However…

It’s better to hear from the people who know it best.

Listen to Dr. Stephen Shore talk about his life here:

Or click HERE to listen to Dr. Temple Grandin talk about her book Different Not Less, a collection of stories from adults on the spectrum about their lives, their achievements, and their successes.

Or perhaps…just watch this:

To the person who wrote “I Wish I Didn’t Have Asperger’s”…

I hope you’re finding the love, support and hope you need.  You have a whole community here to love and embrace you for who you are.

And hopefully we’ll help change your mind.

Hey, hey
Did you ever think
There might be another way
To just feel better,
Just feel better about today

Oh no
If you never want to have
To turn and go away
You might feel better,
Might feel better if you stay.” – Change Your Mind by Sister Hazel

**********

Check out all the incredible Autism Positivity posts linked up HERE

(note:  It’s my day at Hopeful Parents, but I’m also publishing the post here too.  This was something I want to keep here with me for a long time, to refer back to when I need to. So you can read the post here or below.)

What if someone came to you and said the following things:

Why do we view “disability as a deficit model”?  Meaning, why do we look at what people with learning differences are lacking or without?  Why do we try to remediate those “deficits”?

Why are special education graduate programs geared towards teaching “behavior modification” in the classroom?   Why aren’t schools interested in understanding why kids think and behave the way they do but instead focused on fixing the “deficits” to fit in?

Why do we look at celebrities who have disabilities as achieving IN SPITE of their disability, rather than BECAUSE of it?

Why do some “first responders” like teachers and doctors view disorders like autism as the end of the world for our kids?

Why do we believe that people can not achieve because they have a label?

One twenty-eight minute video.  And all these questions were asked.

I watched Garret Westlake, CEO of Stem Force Technology, talk, and my heart grew.  I had hope for the future.  Not just for my kids on the spectrum, but for any kid who has been labeled with a “disorder” or “disability”.  In his talk “Disability as a Catalyst”, he lays out all these questions.

Garret flipped the world on its head for me.

We’re told as parents that our kids’ disabilities will hold them back.

But what if it’s the very thing that moves them forward?

What if colleges looked at a student’s individual strengths and what they could contribute to their campus community, rather than rejecting them based on a composite test score?  What if employers did the same?

What if  special education teachers were trained to understand the science behind our kids’ brains?  What if they knew how to find that spark that makes them special and bring it out?

What if our kids were made to feel proud of their learning differences?  What if someone told them that their Asperger’s was a strength, not a weakness?

What if the very thing that makes our kids “different” is what makes them more marketable?  More in demand? More incredible?

What if we as parents knew that from the start?

Watch the video.  As my friend Jess said over at a diary of a mom, people like Garret are “…creating a path to full participation, brazenly removing the barriers to success for people with autism – and doing it by standing the entire paradigm on its head.  This is how it begins.”

This is how it begins.  I am a hopeful parent again.

For these guys:

For more on what companies like Stem Force Technology are doing, click HERE. For information on their Asperger’s Leadership Conference, click HERE.

And watch the whole video here:

Do you know who I am
Do I know who you are
See we one another clearly
Do we know who we are

We are of the spirit
Truly of the spirit
Only can the spirit
Turn the world around” – Turn the World Around by Harry Belafonte

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