This post is by Ryan Lord.
“To dream anything that you want to dream. That’s the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.” - Bernard Edmonds. “The Truth About Me” was realized a few years ago when my parents told me what a special part of me is…autistic; specifically, Aspergers Syndrome a type of high functioning autism. Accepting change and letting go of things dear to me are daily challenges of someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. Making friends and learning the social cues necessary to sustain friendships is the hardest part of being autistic. Despite everything that comes with being diagnosed with autism, some of these very challenges have shaped me, and pushed me to my academic best by giving me a true sense of who I am.
When I have a dear attachment to something even if I am finished with it I can never let it go. A few days before I wrote this essay, my mom asked me to give my old Pokemon games to my little brother, because she thought I was too old for them. Even though I stopped playing it, I still had some attachment to those games because for me when I put such hard work into something and letting it go is very difficult. Even though most people would much more easily give up their bonds, I for one do not let them go so easily. This has made me a kind and gentle person and I am able to appreciate what I have and not take it for granted.
Another example of this is when I was in elementary school I knew a little girl named Kira. Kira and I were the best of friends. Kira was very tomboyish and I was different. We made the perfect outsiders that found each other’s friendship. However, one day she moved away and I was down in the dumps. I was really sad when she moved away. It was really hard to let her go, I wished I could see her again. Most six year olds, would have easily found a new friend and moved on, but for me, it was devastating. Aspergers allows me to appreciate and care for all things in my life. Everything is precious to me, from my little brother to all my best memories of the people who helped me in my life. This makes me grateful for what God has given to me.
So even though it is sometimes hard, I find what is good about this part of me and I continue to try and understand and appreciate it. Over the course of my life I have been passionately interested in many different subjects. Trains, airplanes, and dinosaurs, are among the many subjects which I have come to study. I have a bountiful amount of knowledge in my head that I can recall at a moment’s notice. I perseverate on these subjects so much, that sometimes it distracts me from my school work - much to my parents chagrin. I learned about many different types of airplanes how they were designed why they were made. I went to air shows, watched videos on them, collected books and I learned so much about them. This passion of airplanes has steered in the direction of possibly considering majoring in aerospace engineering.
Making friends has always been the hardest part of my diagnosis. I prefer my own company and I would consider myself a very shy person. I am the type that likes to have a few close friends rather than have a whole bunch of friends. I was never really good at making friends. But I have acquired some skills that allow me to interact with people. It took a class of “Learning to Make and Keep Friends” to help me in this department. A part of this class was to invite a new person to your home and not play any video games. It was a homework that was hard for me and even harder because electronics is such a big part of modern day socializing. I got the courage to ask a boy in my neighborhood for a playmate. This class and this play date was a life changing event. My best friend turned out to be a friend I met from a homework assignment.
As I said before, I don’t need a bunch of friends, all I need, is one good friend and his name is Austin. The truth about me is no different from anyone else’s truth. We all have things to overcome; we all have to have the courage and will to succeed. My diagnosis makes me no different from anyone else, I choose to think, it sets me apart makes me strong. “Anyone can give up; it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” – Ella Fitzgerald.
This is a quote I believe in. My journey has never been easy but along my way, I have looked at my gifts I have and marveled at them. I have looked at all the things that would have surely hindered my progression but instead, they have served me very well. My diagnosis as it turned out gave me my best friend, it provided me with honors in an early college prep program and has helped shaped the caring, passionate, gentle person I am today.
Aspergers has given me a strong sense of who I am and and incredibly strong sense of determination and self esteem. There will always be things that I am good at; there will always be things I will never be good at. I take those in stride and try not to miss a beat, or the boat to life, or the boat to life’s next big adventure or challenge.