I recently had the privilege of becoming part of a group intended for young adults who are on the autism spectrum to come together and play games, talk, form friendships, and go places together. It’s simply a community comprised of people who go through some of the same things in life, therefore, they can relate to each other. It is honestly the most relatable community I’ve ever been a part of, and it’s a real joy to be a part of it too.
I’ll be honest, after the second time attending, I felt a bit confused afterwards, because I was realizing how quickly I had moved from being someone that was trying so desperately hard to fit in in other places and identify myself as a ‘typical’ human being to becoming someone who has the knowledge and has to accept that I’m not ‘normal’ per se. I realized how fast the transition had become, and how quickly my life turned around. In the group, I’ve been able to communicate and connect with other people in ways that are so much more relatable, even more so than in my own church. This isn’t to say that I can’t relate to or make connections with other people outside the group, I have. It’s just that there’s something about the connections I’ve made with people in the group that feels more at home and more significant. It’s like we can speak each other’s language, and our own personal experiences sometimes hit home perfectly. It’s an experience that almost feels too good to be true.
I find out through talking to certain people at the group that I’m certainly not alone. That I wasn’t the only one to feel somewhat devastated when I heard my diagnosis, and that I wasn’t the only one to feel my self-esteem run low or feel like I couldn’t possibly accept the flaws that I have right now for the time being.
Being a part of this group and meeting the people there allows me to take more steps down a road to accepting the person that I am, mental and social flaws and all, but it also provides me with the hope that I can improve, not so that I can be like everyone else, but so that I can mature into the person that God intends for me to be. I want to be an encouragement to others who are on the spectrum, and let them know that they’re not alone if they’re feeling unsure or confused about themselves. I know that I and anyone else on the spectrum have so much to offer, regardless of what kind of a place we’re on on the spectrum. In fact, I think people on the spectrum can be a beautiful key to changing the world, one step at a time.
To conclude this particular series, I’d like to share a brief story. About two weeks ago, on a Saturday afternoon, I felt like taking my brother Cole (who also has ASD but, unlike me, has an extremely difficult time in social situations and can barely connect with people) on a walk to the 7-Eleven right outside our neighborhood to grab some snacks and drinks, then bring him back home to play video games. On the walk I talked with him and let him tell me everything that he was willing to share about what was on his mind. He obsesses over some of the strangest things, but I let him keep going and I worked on listening to him as much as I could, including some of my own input whenever it felt necessary. I honestly think he got more attention in that one afternoon then he typically gets in a month’s time outside of his family, and it makes me very sad that this is the case. I want people to be more aware of the things that people with ASD go through, and do something about it. People need to stop looking at people with ASD and think they’re ‘weird’ and ‘immature’ and ‘selfish’. Don’t they deserve the same amount of special attention that we give everyone else?
It was difficult to put words to the posts in this series because this is the first time I’ve written about my ASD for the public. It’s not an easy truth to spill but this wasn’t tormenting for me write about in any way. I want to get this out there and I feel no shame in it. I’ve caught myself playing with my ear at times when I get my head back in the real world for the short time my head will let me and I smile at my own odd habit, as a way of expressing my self-acceptance, which I’m working towards consistently every week. I will continue posting new blog articles surrounding the theme of autism, because I think it’s something I’ve become very passionate about writing. I’d like to personally thank my parents for sharing these articles on their Facebook pages, which has led to more people reading my articles and more feedback, all of which has been very encouraging. Thank you.