Saturday, February 6, 2016

Personal History: A Journey In Self Reflection

I haven't updated this blog as much as I've liked over the past month, but in my defence I have a very good reason for this. As I've mentioned in a few posts previously, I've been working on writing a book about my experiences growing up and living with Aspergers' Syndrome. Titled “Differently Wired: The Musings of a Grown Up Aspie,” my book will explore living with ASD from every angle, and needless to say I've excitedly been throwing everything I have into the project. Sadly, I've ignored the blog a bit because of this, for which I want to apologize.

During the course of writing, however, I've had some interesting reflections. Recently, I had to go obtain some documents from my Ontario School Record to assist me in putting the project together and I can safely say that exploring my own school documents was a humbling and enlightening experience. I have a Master's in history, so I am familiar with how to properly use and research primary source documents. The difference is, I'm accustomed to such primary source documents being somewhat impersonal; a speech by a prime minister, a report from a general, correspondence from the front lines, that sort of thing. Nothing prepared me for my journey through my own personal history

In any university history program, one important rule that they teach is to look at the past with the same kind of detachment you'd use when learning about another country. In retrospect, I've learned that a similar approach must be taken when looking through one's own past. Even still, however, it was a powerful experience to learn where I came from through the eyes of my parents and educators rather than through my own. We all, I think, have a rose-coloured view of our own lives, and its often difficult to accept that we may have not been quite as capable at any number of things at any point in our lives. For me, looking through my OSR drove home the fact that, if I am now okay with socializing and only come off as slightly awkward, that was not always the case. According to my evaluations, there was a time in my school career where I was not well liked by others, nor did I display any leadership qualities at all. At the time, I found this hurtful to read, but if anything it serves to show how much we all grow throughout our lives.

Aspergers is, of course, a pervasive developmental condition which lasts a lifetime and so it comes as no surprise that there were parts of my own life which demonstrated my Aspie-ness more than others. We all learn, grow and develop coping strategies as we move through life, and so people can seem far more well-adjusted later in life than they did earlier. It can be a humbling and empowering experience to learn about oneself at an earlier point in life but I caution anyone doing so not to internalize it. Instead, look at what you read for what it is; a snapshot of a time long gone by. It is true that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, but equally true is the danger of allowing oneself to be ruled by the past.

After all, we need to move forward, onward and upward at all times!

Yours in Diversity,

Adam Michael

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