Earlier today I was asked: "May I ask the reason you are even ON an ASD list if you're so self-sufficient and never need any assistance for anything?"
Of course, I've never claimed life is a solo project. My presentations begin with a reminder that most successful people depend on many, many other individuals. Family, teachers, mentors, etc., have all helped me along this path. But, I also don't sit around waiting for help.
Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. When I fail, it is usually because I did something or failed to do something. Maybe I failed to anticipate a problem, which might include other people, but that's how life is. Sure, I probably fail with spectacular regularity. And? What's wrong with falling down time to time?
I'm not going to wallow in what my disabilities or challenges have "cost me" as a person. They haven't cost me anything of serious consequence. Jobs? Grades? Whatever. I have an incredible wife, great family, and cute cats. Definitely not suffering as I sit in my house watching the clouds and writing.
How can I be somewhat content? Don't I realize how horrible things must be? Don't I realize we need to fight, argue, yell, shout, and march in protest?
Sure, I have stress. We all do. My stress, though, is pretty normal: Will I have a job next school year? Will I finish my writing on deadline? Will we be able to finish remodeling the house?
I want better services and opportunities without being a bitter, angry, annoying person. I could never spend every hour that upset with life. It's not that bad. Maybe I'm not passionate enough for some groups. That's okay. It simply isn't me.
When I do need some assistance, the key is to approach the problem with professionalism.
Within the advocacy community, I was told my call for "professionalism" was code for wanting people with ASDs to imitate "neurotypicals." Actually, most people have to learn to be professional. My students are generally normal young adults. Trust me, they don't have "professionalism" mastered yet.
If you want to be taken seriously, you act professional. You don't scream and curse and insult people and expect to win arguments.
The quick-tempered, angry insults too common within autism communities aren't of interest to me -- except in the most scholarly, curious to understand way. In the end, I've decided I'm never going to be what many advocates want.
I suppose this was my final (second) departure from a self-advocacy community. I'm not bitter enough, it seems… and don't want to be.
Plus, it is a nice sunny day and I'd rather think about the flowers blooming and puffy clouds than angry people. Life is what you make of it. Too many people have chosen anger.