As some of my readers may know by sheer virtue of being involved in my personal life, I’m attending a very special Social Skills training for the Autism At Work Initiative hosted by the Arc of Philadelphia this week. Hopefully, this will lead to meaningful employment with SAP or another high-profile employer interested in hiring individuals on the Autism Spectrum, but this week in particular is more focused on SAP.
One of the instructors at this training is Robert Naseef, Ph.D. Here’s a bit more about him from our information packet…
Robert Naseef, Ph.D. has practiced for over 20 years as a psychologist. He is a graduate of Temple University specializing in families of children with disabilities and has published several articles on the subject, including the book Special Children, Challenged Parents: The Struggles and Rewards of Raising a Child With a Disability (1997) Dr. Naseef co-edited Voices From The Spectrum (2006) with Dr. Ariel.
Dr. Naseef presents locally, nationally, and internationally on issues related to family life with special needs and has a special interest in the psychology of men. In 2008, Variety, The Children’s Charity honored him for his contributions to the autism community. He is a board member of the Philadelphia Society of Clinical Psychologists.
In today’s session, Dr. Naseef had some nifty ideas about ASD and Acceptance that resonated with me, and he has granted me permission to share them with you.
Everybody is becoming aware that ASD exists, nowadays, assuming that they aren’t already. With numbers like 1-in-68, it’s hard not to. I once asked on this blog how our society advances to the next step to true societal integration and equality amongst our peers: Acceptance.
Now, in order for others to accept us for who we are, we must first accept ourselves for who we are. Make sense? Be the change you want to be in the world, so to speak. Show others how it’s done.
But what is Acceptance, in the first place?
In order to understand what it is, we must first understand what it isn’t. Here are a few ground rules:
- You don’t necessarily have to “want” or “like” the fact that you were born with an ASD. (Dirty secret confession time: There are times I view my Asperger’s Syndrome as being blessed with a curse. To be fair, that’s true part of the time… and false at others.)
- You don’t have to change your opinion on your experiences with ASD.
- It’s not resigning yourself to the fact that you’ll always have ASD for the rest of your life and using it as a crutch. (Crutch: noun: a mitigating excuse used to avoid accountability for one’s actions)
- You don’t have to throw in the towel on your life or any opportunities you may have yet to discover are even options in your life.
In short: DON’T GIVE UP!
Now that we know what mindsets to avoid, let’s talk about how to talk to others about Acceptance.
- Acceptance is the acknowledgement of the 5 Moments Everyone Will Experience in Their Lifetimes (First mentioned here.) To refresh your memories, those moments are…
- the Ugly
- the Bad
- the Indifferent
- the Good
- the Beautiful
- We must also acknowledge that for every opportunity, there is an alternative. So, even if you don’t get that job, or your relationship doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to… whatever situation didn’t go your way, there’s always the chance that some other opportunity that you didn’t even know existed may come along that may be an even better fit for you.
- Life is hard. Sometimes, we must face this reality head-on and learn from these experiences, no matter how painful they may be. Remember… The Ugly and the Bad exist for a reason.
There’s an old Beatles song called Let It Be, which I used to listen to when I would become depressed. Maybe you might have heard of it.
When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom: Let it be.
To this, I offer my own song (Because you all knew I would. It’s just what I do. For those of you just tuning in, “Hiya! This is what I’m like.”)
I don’t wanna fight anymore. I just wanna sleep.
Anger takes so much of me. I could just lie here and weep.
Tomorrow’s not guaranteed anymore, and I can’t go back to the past.
But if I just focus on now, there’s no telling how long it’ll last.
I just have to take it slow. One day at a time.
Things just happen with no reason and no rhyme.
Tomorrow will be better. I believe. It’s all I can do.
If you want a background tune, I just saw Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F last night, so the end credit song, Pledge of Z is still fresh in my head as a basis for this song. It may not fit exactly, but you get the idea.
The point I’m trying to make with all of this is we can all talk a good game about Autism Awareness and Acceptance, but how do we truly achieve this? I hope I’ve given you plenty to think about on this.
As always, may you find peace with yourself, within yourself.
PS — Go see Resurrection F if you’re able to. It’s so worth it. Not really relevant to anything on the blog; I just wanted to share that with you. I found it very enjoyable. Aren’t these little side conversations nice to have once in a while?