I know I said I was going to address the opposing viewpoint at the end of my last post, but… well, you’ve read enough of this blog to know how I feel about that. So, that would be kind of redundant to do so.
What I wanted to talk to you about tonight (it’s not quite midnight at the time that I’m typing this) is a bit of a personal story.
Earlier tonight, I was picking up a few extra hours at work during a musical performance, when a particularly emotional memory came to mind. I’ve mentioned to friends a few times about this specific memory, but it never carried the same emotional weight as it did tonight.
To explain, I’ve spent much of my life in a bad mood. This could mean anger or depression. This memory occurred during a period of depression.
I remember I was very depressed around this time of year in 11th grade, so it’s possible that this moment may have coincided with that particular bout of depression. A bit of context: I was depressed because I sought companionship through attempts at dating, but nobody seemed interested in me.
I don’t remember how it started, but one of my teachers knew I was depressed and why and somehow got the entire class singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Being in the depressed mood I was in at the time, I wasn’t participating in the singing.
At one point, while the rest of the class sang, this teacher (I should clarify this was a history class) turned to look at me and said, “Remember that, JD.” Or some similar line to that extent. I remember the subtextual meaning of that sentence more than how it was worded. And it means a lot to me, even to this day.
For whatever reason, this memory hit hard tonight. I just wanted to share with you what I’m feeling in this moment. I want to make it a goal of mine to pay it forward. That moment came at a time when I really needed to know I was not alone. That’s a moment of healing I want to focus on paying forward for others who need it in the next decade.
This decade was drenched in so much anger and negativity. We all could use some emotional healing right around now.
It’s not Journey, but maybe it will help someone heal a little when they could use it the most:
Happy Winter Holiday Season with love. May you find peace with yourselves, within yourselves in the new decade. I’ll see you on the other side of New Year’s. Rock on, Spectrumites.
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…
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?