You’re probably wondering why I’m writing to you. I don’t have Aspergers. My son has traits of autism, but not enough for a diagnosis. So what could I say to you, and why should you listen?
I want to tell you how moved I was when I read on several blogs I follow that someone had typed “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers” into google. Not least because the same day my son had yelled, on the verge of meltdown, “I wish I didn’t have dyspraxia and dyslexia and all THIS STUFF!” There is nothing worse than seeing someone in pain, and being powerless to fix it for them. It’s worse than being in pain yourself.
I know something about Aspergers and autism. Through friends, advocates and reading blogs I think I’ve come a long way in my understanding of it. I know more about wishing you’re not who you are.
I’ve struggled with depression for a long time. There have been many moments in my life when I wished I wasn’t me. There are all sorts of bits of myself, physically mentally and emotionally, that at various points I’ve wished away.
I know that it doesn’t matter what I look like, how other people see me, that so long as I try my best to be a good person that’s what matters. For a long time I was surrounded by people who told me I was worthless, and for a long time I believed them. Bullying saps your soul. It’s hard to believe that being unique and true to yourself is fine when people are telling you daily that this isn’t the case. I was 33 when I realised that I was fine. Until then I thought there must be something wrong with me. Once I made the decision to surround myself with people who truly cared, who love me as I am, things became easier. I could still list many things I would change, and I have days when I hate myself, but not nearly as often.
It tears me up to see how aware my son is of not being “normal”. It isn’t fair that he struggles so badly, but I can’t change it. I wish I could stop him wishing to be someone else.
If I could change him, would I?
I’d like to take away the dyslexia, so he could get what’s in his head out and let everyone see how brilliant his ideas are.
I’d like to take away the dyspraxia, so his body would do what he tells it to and he wouldn’t feel so frustrated.
I wouldn’t change how he sees the world. I can’t separate out which bits are “autistic traits” and which bits are him. It’s challenging, and it’s hard at times, that’s true. But it’s also inspiring. He’s taught me to see the whole world in a new way. And he wouldn’t be him if he didn’t think like that, view the world that way.
I don’t know who you are or how old you are. I hope you realise that when people say they hate Aspergers or autism they don’t mean they hate you. They hate that you’re struggling. They wish you had it easier. And if people do say they hate you or that you’re less than them because of who you are, I hope you have the strength to walk away, and find the people who appreciate you. You will find them.
There’s plenty in life that’s painful and unfair. I hope you can focus your efforts on the things that can be changed, and find somewhere safe and supportive to let off steam about the things that can’t be changed. It’s fine to feel frustrated, it’s fine to feel angry, so long as you’re not overtaken by it and targeting it at yourself.