I recently spoke to a high school friend of mine not too long ago about his own personal experiences and stuggles with a disability. But it wasn’t until a year ago that he was officially diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. I asked him if I could interview him, but he felt more comfortable writing it down for me, and I couldn’t have been happier about it. So, please enjoy what my high school buddy had to say about his life, accomplishments, hardships, etc. He wishes to remain anonymous, so in the spirit of anonymity, there will be no names or pictures.
thank you my friend. You are a true hero.
At 38 years of age, I’ve accomplished much (bachelors degree, 10 years as a UPS former employee) yet I still have so much more to accomplish (career, wife, kids). While I don’t like to ever be a person of excuses, I believe a big reason why I am who I am & where I am is because I have Asperger’s Syndrome and was not officially diagnosed with it until 2014.
I can’t remember exactly when I first became aware of the condition and what it is, but it was probably around 3-4 years ago; somewhere on the internet while I was at university. At the time I only had a vague notion of what Autism was, mostly from the album/movie “Tommy” by Pete Townshend & The Who, and a little from professional golfer Ernie Els whose son Ben is autistic (www.elsforautism.com). I learned how Asperger’s is similar to Autism, and that it isolates a person from society in peculiar ways, but not due to a lack of intelligence, was enlightening to me me. It was as if a fog had lifted. It explained a lot. It explained why I struggled at school academically and socially. Why I’ve had issues working for or with certain types of personalities. Why I suffer from lacking confidence because I still feel like the punchline to a lot of people’s jokes due to my previous social ineptness. It made sense, and when I visited a psychologist last year who specializes in A.S.D.’s, he officially agreed.
My sense of self is much better today for knowing this, despite that it’s not too flattering in my opinion. By being aware, I no longer suffer from a lack of social skills as I did for most of my life, and that gives me at least a little more confidence when I’m with friends, or meeting new people in either personal or professional settings. There’s still some lingering doubts, of course, but I am cautiously optimistic that my 40’s could be the best decade of my life!
However, nothing I’ve accomplished, or will accomplish, will mean a darn thing if I don’t share what I learned about Asperger’s with my future offspring or anyone else. I pray your children’s lives unfolds for them sooner than mine has since they have been diagnosed at a young age, has wonderful parents doing their all they can for their well-being, and a medical community that is far more conscious & knowledgeable about Autism than even just 10 years ago.
If there were magic words of advice to share, I would, but the best I can say is this: Just love your kids. Make sure he/she knows you are always their #1 advocate. Find ways to makethem aware of how ‘reality’ works without being condescending, and encourage them to be brave in the face of an ever-changing world (because we strongly dislike change).
I am so happy that my friend was able to share his story with you. And to be perfectly honest with you, even back in high school, I never noticed anything different about him. The crew that I hung around with in high school was awesome! We were band-geeks, we were popular within our own group, and we made each other happy. And that’s all that matters my friends. You don’t need scores of friends in order to be happy. You just need at least one good person in your life that has a positive effect and influence on you. So thank you My friend. You are a positive influence on many lives and the voice of a generation.