One year ago to the day, I put my mother in a nursing home. I feared she would not last the month, let alone recover and look forward to resuming her life at home. Self-care this year has been the key to supporting my parents and adjusting to a new way of life.
Although my blogging subsided, self-nurturance thrived with art journaling. Simple techniques such as rubber stamping and vintage collaging let me put pictures to my feelings, which in turn spurred words and emotion.
Our progress as parents arises from positivity. We use words like “differences” and “strengths.” We look for coping skills and strategies. We tone it down, tune it up, and take life 15 minutes at a time. This makes our family strong.
But we are greedy.
We want to change the world.
So we join the flourishing tribes of allies, autists, and kin striving to eradicate outdated myths.
I would like to share autism positivity from three perspectives of the autism spectrum:
As the mother of an autistic child.
As the daughter of a father with Asperger’s syndrome.
As an autistic adult.
Here are some delightful slices of my life:
At six years old, Liev is a remarkable child. Most are struck by his intellect and vocabulary. Liev loves projects. He embraces each one with unrelenting enthusiasm and meticulous design. You can find him building LED displays or creating fonts on Fontstruct. A language lover, Liev has taught himself Japanese hiragana and he can even read you highlights from your Toyota manual. He is quirky in a charming, innocent fashion; endearing himself with unusual observations and out-of-the-box thinking.
Dad has always been a collector and an adventurer. Before marrying my Mom in the 60s, he split his time between working on his Ph.D. (mathematics!) and collecting minerals. He even took a job in the Alaskan goldmines so he could add a few specific specimens to his treasury. After marrying mom, Dad became a collector of photographs. Their website hosts images from their trips to the Great Barrier Reef, Galapagos Islands, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and many other destinations.
I blush to pat myself on the back, so I asked my husband to name my most positive characteristic. Without hesitation, said “empathy.” I laughed. Empathy is a characteristic not often associated with autism. He is correct, however. Autism boosts my empathy. Emotional regulation issues allow me to experience emotions intensely—I am a sensitive person. Processing the emotional states of others is hard work for me. Body language, facial expressions, and cues other than spoken words are continuously monitored. This combination of effort and sensitivity opens my heart. I care how people feel and I long to nurture, soothe, and support.
Your internet search tells me you feel isolated and burdened by your Aspereger’s diagnosis.
Today, the Asperger’s community of fellow adults and supportive family members responds to you.
We assemble to give you courage.
Your intensity, sensitivity and logical thinking are gifts. The sprinkling of autism in humanity lights the way for our neurotypical siblings. Art, science, music, philosophy and literature owe a debt to the autist.
Events that slip through the minds of our neurotypical peers linger with us. These tremors of emotional disturbance push Aspergerians to relentlessly question and seek answers.
Suffering, injustice and misfortune prod us to change the world.
So, today we write for you. The internet is an ocean of Aspies with outstretched arm to buoy you. The waves whisper deeply familiar stories. Every line you read will be a tether, pulling you to a dock with a view.
From where I stand, overlooking the blogs, chats and groups, I see hope and companionship. I see a place for every Aspergerian to tell their story and find the comfort and support they need.