Saturday, December 15, 2012

I've never heard silence quite this loud

   You're so confused. You look over your texts and try to remember the last things you said to them. You cannot find anything wrong with what you said, but now they are avoiding you for no apparent reason. You've tried reaching out to them, but they are avoiding you like the plague. What have you done wrong?
   Don't worry, you haven't made a huge unknowing social misstep. Actually,your friend's silence might not have anything to do with you at all. I found this to be true myself when my best male friend stopped speaking to me abruptly for five months. I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong. Finally, last week, he broke his silence. The relief was enormous, but his story was quite the learning experience for me.
  He explained something had happened to him, and he was so angry at what had happened, he didn't talk to me because he was afraid his anger would overflow into his messages and would hurt my feelings. He'd rather confuse me than have his temporary anger end our friendship for good.
  I took two things from this explanation. First, I had my best male friend back, and second, his silence had nothing to do with me. I had taken the wrong idea from his silence, that it was my fault, when it was because of me he was keeping quiet.
  If something like this is happening to you, don't worry too much. This person may be trying to not hurt you, and this is how they show it. Just let them know, via text or in person, that you are there for them no matter what. That they matter to you and nothing will change that. Be patient, their reconciliation with you may not be instantaneous.  It may take some time to respond to that caring, and their anger or frustration may not have abated yet. Be patient. Real friendships will outlast these little silences and will become stronger for it. Real friends stick around in these times, and so should you.

Sensitive Santa

  Last Tuesday in my local paper, there was an article on Sensitive Santa. This man professionally goes around to groups of autistic children and lets these kids tell him their wishes for Christmas. However, instead of being loud and surrounded by mobs of people and millions of brightly colored lights, this Santa has no line and is quiet so these autistic children will feel safe and not do a "freak out". This is an amazing idea that is enormously generous.
  A lot of my readers will understand the terror of going to see Santa, especially at a young age. There are a huge number of lights, and even worse, everyone and their mother show up and are talking and yelling and some are even screaming. It's a sensory overload that even the best Aspie sometimes cannot handle.
   I can relate. Without fail, every year, my mother troops my brothers and I down in our itchy Christmas sweaters to see Santa. I absolutely would dread it every single year.Without fail, there would be a ton of people there, and occasionally bad things happen like the year my youngest brother randomly got a horribly bad nosebleed and my mom left me in charge of my other brother while she changed the youngster's shirt. Naturally, I panicked because I had no clue what to do. There were so many people there and they were all talking and, well, let's say it did not end well.
     Here are some tips I have picked up in my seventeen trips to see Santa.
  • Come with a group. Let other people wait in line while you go sit somewhere quieter, then they can come get you when it's your turn.
  • Hum a tune to yourself, or talk to your friends so you are distracted from the lights.
  • Come with people you really like, and they can coach you through it.
These tips are really great if you must see Santa or do something else that's equally difficult. I wish you the best of luck.

Please pray for the children in Connecticut.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Picking Yourself Up

   My friend, let's call her Paulina, has been in love with a certain college since before she can remember. She went to all the summer programs, envisioned herself there, and was smart enough, a commended National Merit finalist,  to get in.  I had never seen anyone work as hard as she did to get anywhere.
  Naturally, when college applications came around, she applied to her dream college Early Action. This means, if she was accepted, she could not apply anywhere else or go anywhere else. Anyway, the admission came at 3:00 last Thursday.

  She didn't get in.

  Paulina was devastated. She couldn't even come to school on Friday she was so sad. How could they not pick her, of all people? She's funny, interesting, and accepted me wholeheartedly when I told her about my Asperger's. She completely deserves this, and they didn't pick her.
  However, Paulina isn't the type to let this defeat her. She's one of the strongest humans I know, and she is the one person who taught me not to let something defeat me, even if it seems like the end of the world, it isn't. Paulina taught me that life throws you curve balls that you will never be prepared for and life will knock you down.  From there you have two choices. You can choose to remain defeated and let it define your life, or you can get up, as painful as it is, and continue with living. If something changes your plans, your plans were probably not meant to happen.
  I feel like we, as Aspies, can take a lesson from my friend Paulina. People will be mean, people will tease, people may hurt, but that doesn't mean you can let them rule your life. Even though it sounds crazy,  do not let them bother you, because picking yourself up is a much braver act than letting those mean people or bad situations rule your life. You will win in the end, but first you have to pick yourself up.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

  It's that time of year again, turn on any sort of family station and there will be a holiday movie playing. Frosty the Snowman, A Christmas Carol, and The Polar Express are examples of some of these classics my family and I enjoy.
   But the one holiday movie I absolutely love (and know every line to, don't judge) is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I love all the songs and even the characters are pretty cool, even at eighteen years of age.
   However, I think it's the story of Rudolph that gets me every time, especially as an Aspie. For those who don't know the story, Rudolph is a reindeer born with a red glowing nose. Ashamed, his father tries to hide his nose, and when that fails, Rudolph runs away with an elf who wants to be a dentist and an explorer hunting for silver and gold. When Rudolph returns, he and his friends are able to save Christmas because Rudolph's nose cuts through the storm.
   I think Aspies are a lot like Rudolph. Many people close to us can try to hide our slight oddities because they just want us to be able to fit in. While they are well-meaning and have our best interests at heart, you should know that you aren't like anyone else. This may seem bad to begin with, like Rudolph thought it was, but your differences make you, you. And, while now, it may seem hard to believe, your differences will change the world and will be called on when nobody else can help. This may take time, so don't expect instant results. Be patient, for one day your talent will be needed when nobody else can help, and then you will shine like a light, bright for all to see.