Every time I receive a post Like, Comment, Re-blog, WordPress follow, or any Twitter activity, I also receive a notification by email. And I open–and thoroughly read–and save–every single one. Silent Wave has its own folder in my Gmail account, which makes for easy archiving. (I also do my very best to go and Follow everyone else’s blogs in turn; if I haven’t, it’s merely an oversight; please message me on Twitter @TheSilentWave and I certainly will!)
I was talking with my partner today while the Follows, Re-blogs, Comments, and Likes were flowing in…
…And I started to cry. I was so touched.
So filled with joy and love and hope and vision.
People have been coming out of the woodwork, left and right. I’ve made some new friends. I haven’t met most of them in “real life”, but I felt (and continue to feel) a special kinship with them that I’ve never shared with anyone I’ve known in person.
I began to realize that the very “thing” that had been a thorn in my side, the unknown elephant in the room, the Invisible Divide between myself and the rest of the world, had now become my strength, my advantage, and most importantly, my purpose.
More tears fell. In relief. In empowerment. I feel heard. Validated. Appreciated. Accepted (acceptance is the Holy Grail for many of us on the spectrum, after all). Looked up to (never saw that coming!) I, like (I’m guessing) many of you, have been making my way through life, doing the best I can, trying to avoid conflict and misunderstanding, trying to quickly clarify any misinterpretation (lest the other person jump to hasty conclusions), trying to protect myself from getting hurt, trying to make it through my workday (and as a child, through school), my errands, and indeed, simply survive the day.
Never once did I imagine that there were so many out there who were (and are) doing the exact. Same. Thing.
More tears fell. Tears of healing. Tears of happiness. Tears of love. Love for my partner. Love for my parents (my dad was largely absent out of necessity at the time, although mom was extremely instrumental in her support, even though at the time, no one could have realized the truth). And although it may sound “cheesy”, it’s truer than I can ever express: love for all of you.
Tears fell in gratitude. Gratitude for my partner’s support. His love. His perseverance. For sticking by me all these years, despite probably having been confused, frightened, and annoyed at times. For your acceptance. For everyone’s respect and open minds.
We (Aspie/autistic people) are a powerful force to be reckoned with, filled with potential and special talents. We’re excellent and true friends and allies. We have so much to offer the world, and I’ve been making an attempt to start on a journey that involves making sure that the “rest of the world” listens. We’re going to be heard.
We’re getting heard by each other first. The number of followers and the amount of interaction that I see not only on my own blog, but also in the Aspie/autist-written blogs I follow (again, I try to follow all of them that I see). We’re learning and discovering our true selves, experiencing crescendos of “a-ha” moments as our lives suddenly fall from chaos into order like a row of dominoes. Learning to love and have compassion for ourselves. Recognizing each other. Giving and receiving support and solidarity. Building confidence and encouragement. (One person in particular, who announced her newly-official diagnosis on Twitter, has provided me with the courage and gumption to more deeply consider going ahead and saving up for an official assessment of my own!) Speaking up, with every Comment, Follow, Re-blog, and Tweet.
It will dawn on the rest of the world, too. They will eventually realize, and they will have no choice but to listen. They will begin to understand and they will grow to accept and perhaps even embrace. They’ve been getting their first exposures through the media, through more accurate portrayals of Aspie/autistic people (although that’s in its infancy right now, and it’s not 100% accurate yet; they still have a little ways to go). The parents of children on the spectrum may grow to understand, too. They may not fear so much. They may begin to appreciate the potential flower waiting to bloom inside their children. They’re beginning to realize that their child’s autism designation is an integral part of that flower, and that a different type of support (than “normal”) will be needed to foster its bloom.
This will hopefully spread to schools, too. I see more and more of them popping up on Twitter, specializing in–or exclusively designed for–spectrum designations. They may not be perfect, but if they’re worth their salt, they will evolve in time to be more supportive, helpful, and relevant to us.
I’d like to tell you that I’m a member of a Facebook group for doctors who practice integrative neurology. These folks have begun several offshoot focus groups, at least one of which is dedicated to the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, and recently, I made the following request:
This is because I want to make sure that when we, the people on the spectrum, enlist these doctors for help and guidance, that they actually understand us, and are truly equipped to help us. Not to “cure” our spectrumhood, nor to “fix” or “treat” it. But instead, to see our neurological orientation for what it actually is and avoid sending us down the frustrating, hopeless, and pointless path that we’re often currently shunted into. I want to do my part to see that this is done correctly. That we are accepted for who we are, without being pigeonholed into something we’re not, and that we are understood, accepted, and respected as equal human beings.
Who knows how this will pan out? I’m not sure myself. The orchestrator of the focus group sent me an application, which I filled out and submitted by the deadline. I haven’t heard back yet on whether or not I was accepted. The integrity of the group will itself be determined, in large part, by whether or not they’re willing to have an Aspergian doctor as a member. The true colors, whether good or bad, will be revealed eventually. Time will tell.
I did take a giant (and some might say, foolish) leap of faith in posting that request to the Facebook group, but my convictions were (and are) so strong that I didn’t care.
To my surprise (and relief!), it was well-received! The other doctors did not appear to shun me or write me off. Rather, they were curious. They wanted to know. They seemed interested to hear what I had to say. It looks like I may (potentially) be able to help influence (at least, in a tiny way) the direction of these groups.
People on the spectrum know firsthand how tough acceptance, validation, and being taken seriously can be to come by. The relief washed over me. More comments popped up on that doctor thread and more encouraging activity continued to pour forth from WordPress and Twitter, and I cried some more. For sheer joy. I reflected on the blog posts I had found that had given me those “a-ha” moments and the ensuing relief. (
I’ll make I’ve made a list of those blogs and individual blog posts for a future post .)
I envisioned a world where every child and adult on the spectrum is free to self-soothe, pursue their interests, and develop their talents/gifts/skills, with full support and encouragement from the “rest of the world”, much like my mom had done for me. I admit, that World is a little far off at this time; we’re not there yet. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t follow my current path, as an advocate and truth-teller (or sometimes, truth-shouter LOL) on WordPress and Twitter, (which I can’t see myself ever ceasing to do, no matter what happens with the doctors’ group above).
And maybe, just maybe, I can contribute at least something to a small (or large?) step for spectrum-kind. 🙂