Sunday evening, I had the opportunity to go to a bible study for young adults. While there, I met several people, but one stands out among them. While speaking with this person, I was reminded of how little people know about high-functioning forms of autism.
I was quiet, as is normal for me when in a new surrounding with many new people, until I met Stafford and the whole evening turned around for me. I was able to talk to him comfortably about many topics (Star Wars, Star Trek, church, our ministries, family, disabilities, etc.). After speaking with him and becoming comfortable, I was better able to talk to other people and get to know them without feeling out of place and awkward.
Stafford and I have a few things in common. We both have what is considered a disability; he’s Bi-Polar type one and I have Asperger Syndrome. We live our lives to the fullest despite these disabilities; he has a wife and a little one (with one on the way) and I have a job and live life happily. We both believe these things to be tools of ministry; both he and I can reach people like us that might otherwise be untouched. We both are open and unashamed of sharing what we’ve experienced; his experiences with Bi-Polar type one and my experience with AS.
In my conversation with him, he was amazed with how open I was about my AS, how willing I was to talk about it, explain it, and answer questions. I realized that not many people know about high-functioning forms of autism because not many of us with them are open to questions and willing to talk about it. When you hear people talk about high-functioning autism (HFA) or AS, it’s a parent explaining their child’s strange behavior or a professional that doesn’t actually have HFA-AS. It’s a bit of a taboo subject for a lot of us. Maybe it’s because of the fear of being labeled a “freak” and rejected because of it. Maybe it’s because some of us are ashamed of being so very different from everyone else. Maybe it’s because some of us would just prefer to not talk at all. Everyone that doesn’t talk about it has a reason. Not all of them are the same, but I will not give myself a reason to be quiet about it. I want people to hear about it on the News and on TV shows. I want to, metaphorically, knock on the general public’s door and let them know about it. How many children will remain un-diagnosed and without help for their HFA-AS specific problems because not enough people know about HFA-AS?
I’m doing what I can to spread awareness. I hope to do more in the future. I hope that the question and answer post I’m working on will help to spread more awareness. What can you do to help?