Autism: The Invisible Disability
Random Human: "Hi, how are you today?"
Me: (looking down) "good"
Random Human: "Are you alright, is something wrong?"
NOOOPE nothing is wrong, random person, this is just me communicating in the most "normal" way I can even if that means I'm looking at this concrete floor.
Educating people on Autism and creating awareness is by far one of the biggest goals of mine. My entire life I have had to deal with people either not understanding or completely misunderstanding me. Autism doesn't have a logo and each and every person on the spectrum is unique. We are your neighbors, your waiters and your clerks and we look just like anyone else. Thats the thing that makes being on the spectrum so difficult; you don't slow down for us because we're sitting in a wheel chair and you don't become more patient because its apparent we have Down's Syndrome. Instead, I have found that people look at you like you're the "weird girl" who walks a little sideways, stutters when she talks and doesn't pick up on your everyday social cues. Don't even get me started on how difficult it can be to go out in public and shopping sometimes. The weird looks we get when my sister has to explain she needs to join me in the dressing room to help or the eye rolling when I ask if my food can be placed on separate plates; the list goes on. However, I'm not here to complain. But, I am here to educate and inform.
In general, this world could really benefit from everyone being nicer to their neighbors. When you ask people what they would do if they could change the world, I bet you 9/10 will say world peace. I know we live in a fast paced world and I know how hard it is to be a teenager who just wants to fit in. But let me tell you something, as you grow older you will find that it isn't "cool" to be a bully. Take the time to understand people, learn to have patience and live without judgement. So what if I start to flap my hands when I talk; I'm talking. And, I think its pretty darn cool that I was gifted with a voice to do so. Autism isn't the only "invisible disability" out there. There are millions of people living with conditions that you can't see. Instead of scowling or raising an eyebrow at the girl who talks to you while looking at the floor, smile at her, listen to her, and be a friend.
Anyways, enough rambling for the night. In the end, we can all work on being more kind and patient, myself included. There is no sense in downgrading people because they do things or think differently then you. If we were all the same, this world would be a pretty boring place. If you take away anything from this post, I hope its this: We rise by lifting others. Be kind, be patient, and be the reason someone smiles today.
DISCLAIMER: This post is full of positivity. Negative Nancy's, read with caution.
Lately I've found myself continuously repeating Chumbawamba's famous lyrics, "I get knocked down, but I get up again. You're never going to keep me down". These lyrics have been keeping me strong through some, not so bright, days. Recently, I had an opportunity to meet one of my BIGGEST idols, whom I have looked up to and admired for several years. I have related to her as a fellow adult on the Autism spectrum and have truly looked up to her drive and determination to make a difference in this world. Preparing for my encounter, I wrote up several questions and even purchased a book to have her sign. I couldn't wait to share my own story with her and hopefully learn from each other. The excitement that filled me was evident and I shook in anticipation as I entered the building where my idol was waiting. As I walked up and introduced myself, my world was turned upside down. I was immediately cut off, talked down to, ignored, humiliated, and left holding onto crushed dreams. In this moment, I was left speechless and frozen. I couldn't help but think of Hazel from The Fault In Our Stars when she traveled across the country only to be completely disgusted in her own idol and favorite author. Oh, Hazel I feel your pain girl.
The truth is, I never got the chance to tell this idol of mine who I really was. I had so many things to share with her, so many accomplishments and dreams I was eager to discuss. Minutes, hours, and even days after this event I have taken the time to really think about this experience. I have pondered and thought about things from every which way and direction imaginable. I've lost hope in my future and found it again countless times. Finally, more than two weeks later, I have settled all these negative feelings that have taken control of me and am (finally) at ease.
When it comes down to it, a huge part of life is based on perspective. Are you a glass half full or half empty kind of lad? Go and Google search quotes about positive thinking and you get almost 5 million hits! The past few weeks have certainly been a huge test for me but have also reminded me to always look on the brighter side, find that silver lining and believe in yourself. There are always going to be people in your life that will bring you down, sometimes even the people you admire most. But, at the end of the day you can either let them make you or break you and quite honestly, I'll be damned if I ever let the opinion of one person ever break me. The truth is, I am proud of my accomplishments. I have overcome battles that no doctor ever thought was possible. I have jumped over hurdles and broken down walls, and I'm not even close to being finished. My journey is full of up's and down's. I have a lot more to learn and a long way's to go but, I am proud of me. And, you should be proud of you! Life is crazy and people will bring you down but theres no excuse for not getting back up!
" No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" - Eleanor Rosevelt
Welcome to my blog, I'm Ashley! I look forward to sharing my journey with you. Learn all about me in the "about" tab above!