Today is Access Equality Day (#AccessEquality). It’s a day for celebrating people from all walks of life and shining a light on the many ways the world is inaccessible to people that have disabilities. I don’t normally write personal things on my blog, but as today is a special day, I thought it called for a special post.
My son has been diagnosed with a developmental disability known as Asperger’s Syndrome. There is a lot of misinformation about what that means and what symptoms arise from it, but most will tell you that it’s on the Autism Spectrum. I find that particular point to be more for people that are completely unaware, though that is for another post.
I love you. I know sometimes you think I don’t. I know you think I am mean to you or don’t trust you. I hope one day you realize it’s not you I lack faith in, it’s the world around you. As a parent, it is my job to keep you safe. It’s my job to help you become independent and to watch you grow into the lovely person that I know you’re capable of being. I know you think I see your Asperger’s as a nuisance and that as a result I see you that way. This could not be further from the truth. I don’t see your Asperger’s as a problem, I just wish I knew how to create a more accessible world for you so that you could thrive without so many things hurting you or breaking you down.
Today, I was searching on Google and I came across a group of women talking about their adult children with Aspergers. The result broke my heart. One mother thought her son would be okay, permitting his girlfriend didn’t dump him – which was unlikely. Another mother only had hopes as far as a residential treatment center and social security for her son, once she died. She hopes he can make friends like him and had the hopes he could lead a normal life for what he is capable of, but she honestly didn’t know what would happen once she was gone.
I do not want you to think you are a burden. I don’t want to treat you like one. I want to find a way to show you that you are as wonderful as I believe you are. Right now, if there was one thing really holding you back, I believe it is you. The world is a mean place and the people in it can be cruel. You haven’t been able to make friends, as hard as you’ve tried, and I think that affects how you have come to see yourself.
When you are not letting all the stress of the world fall on your shoulders you are a nice, compassionate, funny person. You’re polite to people despite any differences they have. You are open-minded and will help anyone you can, just because you know it’s the right thing to do. You are creative in your imagination and in so many ways you are just like other people your age. You want the same things. You want independence and the ability to make decisions for yourself. You want love and companionship. The difference is you find you have to work harder at attaining those things.
You’ve changed so much in the last few years and a lot of that has allowed you to do some growing up. You’re almost done with high school and the future has the possibility of offering you a lot in the coming years. I just hope that you love yourself enough to realize you’re worth all the things you are capable of doing.
As you continue to get older, I hope you realize that we stress your independence as much as we do because we want you to live an independent life and be able to make your decisions on your own. I hope that you find some people that realize you’re as wonderful as you are and if you don’t, I hope you know, it’s not your fault. You are the only person in charge of you. You can’t control other people and though I know it breaks your heart and mine, as well, it really is their loss, because they will never know how good a friend they so easily threw away.
If Asperger’s has taught me one thing, it’s that every day is a new experience. Everyday offers some challenges and some success. It’s like anything else in life. You do not have a disability in the true sense of the word. A disability implies you are disadvantaged in some way, but you can do anything you want to do in life. Don’t let the naysayers control what you choose to do with your life, because they will never understand what you are capable of, if you set your mind to something.
I know right now you feel like your life is a challenge. Just know that it doesn’t always have to feel that way. I love you and on this and every other day, we will work on things together.