Friday, December 2, 2011

Thickening My Skin

I have to aim high in life. I am the same person inside I would be if I didn’t have autism. If I didn’t have autism I’d be interested in a career, an independent life, and friends. I still have these goals. School is now feeling somewhat goal oriented. What I mean is, high school is necessary to do what I want in life. My goal is to get a college education and to work after that in education and autism, so high school is a step toward all that.

My high school is forcing me to toughen up. In the beginning I was miserable because I suspected I was not welcome. I have come to the conclusion that I really don’t need to be welcome in order to succeed. Why should I worry if everyone likes me in the school or not? The truth is, I am a really visible presence because I am so different. I am somehow learning not to be a sensitive guy about this. If I am to face the whole world of special educators I better get a thick skin.

I wrote recently about how irritated I was by a woman who was shocked I understood English fluently even after I presented to an audience. To her credit she grew and learned from our interaction. That was wonderful and I give her credit for opening her mind. I was interviewed recently by medical students who were surprised to find a bright mind behind my symptoms. They were kind and open-minded and the professor told me they learned to not judge a book by its cover. Since my cover is Autismland I know some people can’t see what is inside, but that is not my limitation. It’s theirs.

The reality is that differences scare people. It isn’t just autism. It can be physical, or cultural, or whatever. In any case, the odd man out is either welcomed by people or treated in a cold and rejecting manner. I have to realize it is individuals who are reacting to me in the best way they understand. When people have pre-judgments I must grow in my maturity. The saying is, “from adversity we get strength”, so I will try to do that.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you, Ido, for being so understanding of our limitations and for believing in others' ability to change their erroneous perceptions. High school is a particularly tough time for everyone, but you are clearly ahead of the curve if you have realized that you don't need to base your own self-worth on the perception of others.

    A medical student :)

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  2. Once again, Ido, you've written a beautiful and moving piece. As the commenter above said, this is what high school feels like for so many people -- but for kids like you and Dashiell, the whole experience is intensified. As a mom and a caring human being, I feel terrible that you aren't being welcomed at your school, but I am also so proud and impressed by your response to this situation. You're right: it's about them, not you. As Dashiell once wrote, "The only thing that keeps me from understanding others is their ignorance. Sometimes people think that I am not an intelligent person and that I don’t have feelings. I can only help myself learn about my condition. Others should do the same. Together We Can…make a difference in building a better society. One of kindness, understanding, and love."

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  3. Another beautifully written piece, showing maturity far beyond your years.

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