I am not normal

Based on the Start Experiment, one of the topics was ‘What do you fear?’ and how to cast out that fear. One of my biggest fears has been being seen as different.
I have Aspergers, a form of autism. I know that I have it now, but growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I just knew I was different. I sympathized with Mr Spock of Star Trek, an alien living among humans, not understood and not understanding others.
My immediate family members didn’t know what to make of me. I was not close to either of my parents nor my sister. My interests were vastly different than theirs. Imagine country music versus classical. I didn’t understand social interactions or how to make or keep friends.
And I just wanted a friend.
I would have, in time, what I would call, survival friends. They are not the ones you would have chosen, but the ones that were willing to hang out with you, or at least not turn you away. They were nice people and we shared some common interests, mostly of not fitting in elsewhere.
I studied human psychology to try to understand WHY people did what they did.
I studied history to glean data from what people had done in the past.
But it was all cold data, with little meaning behind it.
It wasn’t until I went to college that I felt like I fit in. But it made it harder to return home. They are supposed to understand and support you at home, aren’t they?
I have made decisions in my life to try to fit in, to be more normal. Now, in the middle of my life, I am frustrated. And I know why. I have not been honest about who I am.
But I am special. I am unique. And I need to embrace who I am and associate with those who appreciate that.


A letter to the parent of a newly diagnosed child with autism

You just received the diagnosis that your child has autism. You might have suspected it or it may be a surprise. Either way, condolences and congratulations.

You have just joined a group of parents united in a common experience by no choice of your own. You are probably experiencing many emotions, among them grief, shock, denial, and fear. You don’t feel up to the task and may be asking yourself a few questions:

–          Why my child?

–          Why ME?

–          What did I do/not do?

–          What do I do now?

     I don’t know why your child, I didn’t know why my child had autism until I did some family research.  I found that my father’s family had several  generations of people with characteristics that were probably autism, some classic and many more high functioning. It probably explains why I found my way into Electrical Engineering. Not all children with autism have a family history of autism. Sometimes it just happens.

  You didn’t do anything to cause this. You didn’t eat magic beans or some other food that caused this. Right now, there is not a simple reason for why some children get autism. Don’t take on guilt about how it happened. There will be plenty of guilt to deal with later on.

  What do you do now? You live, though right now it sure doesn’t seem easy. Trips to the store seem painful, restaurants other than drive thru are a distant memory, and vacations seem a far away dream. Life seems to be made up of tiny experiences, each fraught with potential issues and explosions.

But you are not alone. There are many of us on the journey here to help. And you will learn how very strong you are in this journey. For you are carrying your child and yourself as you go. You have to learn to pace yourself, because the journey is a marathon, not a sprint.

There will be wonderful days. Many kids with autism seem to carry that child like wonder of the world with them longer than other kids. And you get to experience it with them. Many have talents in music or handling animals that are wonderful to observe. When you get to the point where you can celebrate who they ARE instead on mourning who they MIGHT HAVE BEEN, you are doing better.

I hope that I, with this blog, can add some encouragement to your journey.