Finding Ourselves on the Autism Spectrum

Helping each other

A few months ago I was at a local support group meeting for parents of kids with Asperger’s Syndrome. It was started by a couple friends of mine with kids on the spectrum, and we’ve been meeting about once a month. One of my friend’s daughters agreed to come and speak to the group to share her thoughts and experiences as a young woman with Asperger’s. I was impressed with how well-spoken she was and with her bravery in being willing to speak with the group. It made me realize that someone being poised and articulate and performing well in school didn’t necessarily eliminate the possibility of that person being on the spectrum, and that led to more exploring of my own life experiences. Starting out on that path has led me to meeting many wonderful people who have helped me to understand that I am not alone and that who I am is really OK.

Soon after reaching the conclusion that I was probably an Aspie myself, I was presented with the opportunity to help this young woman in exploring her own life. She had decided to write a research paper about having Asperger’s Syndrome, which was a huge step for her, and I was asked if I would agree to be interviewed as an older woman who was self-diagnosed. In typical Aspie form, and because of difficulty arranging both our busy schedules, we handled the interview by exchanging emails rather than in person. It was an interesting experience for me and served to reinforce my realization that I’ve spent my whole life using my mind to figure out strategies for coping with situations that didn’t feel natural to me.

This week we had another support group meeting, and my friend read the very eloquent conclusion to her daughter’s 25-page paper, in which she had expressed how much better she was feeling about herself and her future after having worked on this paper. I asked my friend for permission to share the email she sent to me after the meeting and offered to change their names to initials to protect their privacy:

“Hi Diane,

You have no idea how much hope you have given me for L by revealing your suspicions about having Asperger’s. When you first emailed me and said you think you have it – I thought no – you’re outgoing and friendly and socially appropriate and a great mom… you don’t appear to be on the spectrum. But after reading articles about girls and Asperger’s, well, it’s very different than for boys. Girls can hide it so much better or like L says – “fake being normal.” The more I learn about it, the more I see it in two of my sisters and my mom and my grandma.

Your advice to L not only helped her to write a great paper, but also to learn how to tackle her own personal issues. She has used your “cognitive therapy” approach to talk herself down when she is anxious and she says it helps. Knowing how well you have turned out – you have given me hope that L WILL eventually drive, she WILL go to college, she WILL get a job, get married and hopefully be a mom, too. So thank you for trusting me enough to share this information about yourself.

p.s. I liked our quiet little meeting where it was just the three of us!

p.p.s. L is gone for a whole weekend on a Youth Group Retreat and I didn’t have to force her to go. 🙂

Take care,

B”

This absolutely made my day, and I wanted to share J We really can make a difference in each other’s lives.

 

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Comments on: "Helping each other" (14)

  1. Good for you! Happy this worked out so well for everyone.

  2. Diane,
    I love this! I’m reading Rachel’s book this weekend and I hope to get my daughter to read it too. I’m only on page 71, but her story is also encouraging if you haven’t read it yet.
    Aloha,
    Sue

    • Thanks for writing in, and thanks for the book recommendation. I absolutely intend to read it. I’ve just started the Aspergirl book, and I think Rachel’s book should be next. I read so slowly. It’s very frustrating. But anything encouraging is worth the time 🙂

  3. Well done you!! 😀
    This is what it’s all about. Turning that negative upside down and helping the youngsters and their parents. We have SO much in our heads, that we have rehearsed and replayed SO many, MANY times.
    We can be multi coloured Rainbows when we focus our loops in this positive way.
    I BET you feel SO Aspie-happy. 😉
    Love, hugs and blessing to you my friend.
    Lisa. xx 🙂

  4. I just want to hit a big ol’ “Like” button on this post. : )

  5. That is so great that you could help L so much! I am consistently amazed at how much this kind of support (even from people I have never met in real life) helps me. Thanks for sharing this story–it makes me feel better about my son’s prospects and just makes me feel good to hear about how you made a difference in L’s life…

    • Thanks, Patty. I just think it’s great how even by just reaching out a little we can impact each other’s lives, and how in helping others we help ourselves, too.

  6. Diane,

    This is great!

    What an awesome way to give back to your community and to be a big inspiration in peoples lives. I am just so happy for you! I am also happy for the family and their daughter she is already doing great things as well.

    • Thanks, Angel 🙂 It just made me feel so good having a chance to help someone younger in a way no one knew to help me.

  7. Aspergirl Maybe said:

    How wonderful that you were able to help out not only this girl but her mother as well. Giving them the encouragement to keep their relationship strong is probably the best thing you could have done!

    Thanks for sharing about this. 🙂

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