Monday, June 30, 2014

On Education and Fear

Hey all and welcome to another edition of Differently Wired; the blog for all things Aspie! I’m sorry I haven’t updated in a long while, but life has been rather busy as of late. I’m back though, so without further ado, let’s get on with it!

Today’s blog entry is actually based on something that happened to me recently. You see, in the past few months, I moved in with my best friend in a fantastic new apartment building. Coincidentally, two of my aunt and uncle (henceforth referred to as zia and zio due to my Italian heritage)’s friends live in the building too, and one night as I was leaving, some of their friends were coming off the elevator to pay them a visit. I was just leaving my own unit when something unexpected happened. One of them; a lady who my zia had been friends with for a long time, saw me and asked to speak with me about something. She told me that her grandson has Aspergers and that she would very much like my advice on how to approach the situation!

I’m rather ashamed to admit it, but I was engulfed by quite a bit of emotional confusion upon being asked this. On the one hand, I was honoured and thrilled to be able to do good and make a difference in someone’s life. It is, after all, my motivation for writing this blog and for continuing to be an outspoken activist for Aspie pride. On the other hand, I felt an emotion which is all too human; fear. I was afraid that I was and would be considered to be less of a person by her and angry that my zia seemed to talk about me behind my back in such a way that one of her friends knew something very personal about me. It was my secret to choose to share, dammit!

…at least, that’s how I felt at the time.

As the days went on, I thought more about the request, and finally decided that I would do it. It was the right thing to do, and it would help someone out who was in need. And you know what? As we sat down to have coffee and discuss all things Aspergian, I feel like I truly got through to someone. Many of the things I mentioned were things I’ve written about on this blog, along with a heaping dose of Neurodiversity 101. I think what helped tie it all together though was that my zia’s friend saw me, a fully-functioning adult aspie with a good job and burgeoning writing career, and felt comforted for her own grandson. To borrow a phrase from the LGBTQ community, it DOES get better.

I guess what I’m trying to say with this entry is that, to quote a very wise green puppet from a fictional universe, fear is the path to the dark side. It’s extremely understandable, especially when it comes to something like Aspergers, which isn’t widely socially understood or accepted. That being said, we should never be afraid of being who we are. The only reason people have the power to judge is because we give it to them through our fear. If we proudly proclaim to all the Neurotypicals out there that we are proud to be Aspies, then we effectively rob them of all power to judge us. The only way to help the children growing up with Aspergers right now is for all of us adult Aspies to take pride in ourselves and educate others.

After all, we must be the change we want to see in the world!

(Also, I should really stop quoting famous people and characters shouldn’t I?)

As always, yours in diversity,

Adam Michael

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