A few weeks ago, one of the kids in my LEGO Social Club vehemently declared, "I HATE autism! I hate it! There is no cure and it makes my life so hard!"
From the start, I felt a connection with B, a 13 year old who I have known for close to a year now. He hugs me fiercely whenever he sees me and he talks to me like I am a trusted friend, which is the highest compliment I can think of, really. He is kind and funny and full of life.
My heart broke for B when he said that.
I wanted to redirect him, make him see how wonderful he is, make him change his mind and be happy and accepting of who he is. But I stopped myself. What B needed was someone to validate him, tell him it was okay to feel that way. What B did not need was someone like me--someone who really has no clue what life is like for those with autism, despite watching my son live with it for the last 8 years--telling him how he should feel.
I don't know what it is like to live with autism or Asperger's. I don't have either; I suppose I would be considered neurotypical. I have learned about autism from my precious 8 year old son, Danny, who is everything to me. Everything. I adore this son of mine, along with my two younger children, and I see how he struggles. I see how difficult life can be for him. And I can understand how much it must sometimes hurt to have these struggles.
When I came across this post about the Autism Positivity Flash Blog, it really struck a nerve. Apparently, a while back, a blogger noticed that someone discovered his/her blog after googling "I wish I didn't have Asperger's." The point of this flash mob is to flood the internet with positive posts directed towards anyone out there who might be struggling and wishing he/she didn't have autism. Bloggers were asked to post a message to this person so that if anyone ever googles that term again, he/she will find post after post full of supportive, loving messages. I love this idea, because I could see my friend B googling such a term, and I want to know that there are positive messages waiting for him, if the time ever comes.
My message to you is this:
I'm sorry life is so difficult for you. I am so sorry you have to struggle and that you perhaps feel alone or hopeless. I know it can't be easy. As I watch my son and the other amazing kids in LEGO Club, I see people who are so strong, so resilient and so full of life. I know that life is not easy for them. They tell me all the time about getting made fun of at school or struggling to make friends. Danny talks about how he tries his best, but it never seems to be enough for him to really succeed. He tells me that making friends at school is next to impossible.
But what he and my LEGO kids don't see is that they are so unique and fun and terrific--funny, smart, insightful, straightforward and staunchly loyal people who I respect and admire so much. I wish I could make my kids see how terrific they are. I also wish I could take some of the pain away and make life easier for them, but I can't, just as I cannot take away your pain.
The one thing I can tell you, though, is that you are NOT alone. There are people all over the internet, bloggers, people in chat rooms, friends on Facebook, who care. They care and so do I.
So, please, reach out to someone. Find someone you can talk to, someone who will listen. And please, please remember: you are NOT alone.