Craft is best known for her prolific writings found in her well received book and blogEveryday Aspergers. A professional educator, she has been published in peer-reviewed journals, been featured in various literature and venues, including Aspien Women, Autism Parenting Magazine, The Mighty, Spectrum Women, Project Aspie and Different Brains. She is coauthor of the book Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism and speaks on the topic of neurodiversity around the world, including at the Love & Autism Conference (Fall 2018) and Southwest Washington Autism Conference (Fall 2018).
Craft was the Community Achievement Award recipient at the ANCA World Autism Festival (2017), her works have been translated into multiple languages, with her list of traits for females on the autism spectrum shared in counseling offices around the world. Since 2012, she’s had the opportunity to correspond with over 10,000 individuals on the autism spectrum. Her blog Belly of a Star features her paintings and drawings and over 100 poems and spiritual writings. Craft also serves as the Lead Job Recruiter and Community Manager at ULTRA Testing, an innovative technology company with a neurodiversity hiring initiative.
1. I would learn everything I could about the spectrum conditions through reputable, well-honored sources; and then readily forget everything I knew and recognize my daughter is a unique individual with exact perfection and a glorious light.
2. I would acknowledge each and every way my daughter’s actions reflect a behavior that in some way makes me believe that I am affected. What is it that she is doing that is causing discomfort to me, would be a question I would demolish, and whole-heartedly embrace the conclusion that I am the only one choosing to be in a state of discomfort based on someone else’s reactions and actions. And in truth my reactions have a direct effect on everyone about me. My ‘job’ as a parent, if I were to assign an exact ‘role’ and ‘duty,’ would be to reflect back to my daughter her beauty and nothing more.
3. I would concentrate on the definitions of imperfection, flawed, wrong, and normal. I’d understand all words are manmade and invented, that even the deepest of spiritual beliefs and psychology have been spoon-fed from man to man, and thusly infected and created into something man-based. With man comes fear. I would readily announce the fear in me, and the fear related to my daughter’s ‘condition.’ I would see that all my discomfort is based primarily on two things: Fear and not living in the present.
4. In seeing I am nothing but the present moment, and that my daughter is thusly only in the present, I would establish a way in which I could practice moment-by-moment being there in a state of grace for my daughter and the rest of family, friends, and society. I would grow, as a role model for my daughter, a person of inner-security, unconditional love and acceptance. I would discard robes of non-authenticity, fear-based projection of self onto others, the selfish feeding that society dictates from mass media, big business, politics, and dogma-based religion. I would embrace the light of my child as my divine teacher and establisher of the breaking of norms to set my own soul free.
5. I would ask her to teach me what she knows, and try to experience the world through her eyes and senses, while recognizing her way is not right or wrong, and just is. I would understand she needs no fixing or alterations, and that in healing my own spirit and aches and longings, and by being in a state of centeredness and balance, she, as I to her, can grow into a reflection of me.
6. I would stop taking her to professionals who are not heart-mind centered and well-established in their own inner-awareness, growth, love and beauty. I would expose her to people that resonate at a high-vibration of acceptance. I would break up with all relations that fed off of her energy, ‘goodness,’ innocence and purity. Recognizing, she, like me, is born in beauty in perfection, I would establish an environment in which she could be the best of who she is: authentic in all ways and degrees.
7. If I ever felt embarrassed or ashamed, I would recognize I have bought into the illusion of normalcy and the ‘right’ way to be. I would declare there is no ‘right’ way to myself and to my child, and celebrate not what is good in her—for to do so would be to automatically judge and establish bad. Instead I would celebrate her in completion, for the gift of her in my life, for the way she has helped me to transition and grow as a person.
8. I would immerse her in her pleasures and passions; knowing her interest are the only means of escaping the chaos of a delusional world that breeds off of profit, greed, lies, and game-playing. I would understand that she sees through the veil of illusion, and is entirely awoken to the process transpiring before her. That to her the world is scary because the people are scary in their attempts to be loved through fear and imaginings. I would recognize until I see the world as safe, she will perceive the world as danger. In order to heal my own wounds, I would dive deep within and embrace my authentic being, risking like I never have and dying a thousand upon a thousand deaths. And through my own dark night of the soul, reestablished in my own profound light and knowing of All, I would return the light upon my daughter. Her established and well-pruned light of goodness. I would return not what was taken, but smothered by my own misjudgment and yearnings. I would thank her repeatedly for her gift of self.
9. I would expose her to life. I would teach her all is okay. But I would not take her where she chose not to go. If she was demolished in spirit in a social environment, I would not expose her over and over again. She is not lacking in her ability to associate with others and be in ‘public’ places. She knows the rules, she knows the game. What she is ‘lacking’ is the blindfold to pretend she is someone she is not in order to be falsely accepted by others pretending to be someone they are not. She recognizes the soul-eyes of the ones weeping and the bleeding pierced hearts. The sorrow is everywhere, and the heart-songs are locked away in over-burdened spirits, so lost upon self their suffering seizes the very encasement of my seeing daughter. And here she is rocked in so much confusion and pain, she longs for escape and safety. Returning her again and again to a place of non-awareness and imaginary games does nothing to lift her or gather her from one skill-level to another; it only reminds her, the over-exposure to the ways of the world, how very different, lost and alone she feels.
10. I would connect her to all awakened souls, so deemed awakened by her, more so than me. Whether this be the towering trees, the preacher on the street, the homeless man, the priest, or the Buddhist on the corner, or the birds in the garden, I would take her there. I would take her into the deep philosophical teachings of ancient scriptures of all denominations and let her find the interwoven connections. I would teach her through example to love all unconditionally, to accept all unconditionally, to erase dogma and the illusion of how things have to be. I would teach her through my very being that she is such a joy and gift to the world and that to let her fly through the removal of my own blinders is to me my own greatest gift to all. I would recognize I can never accept my daughter until I accept the completeness of my self, and in turn, accept the completion in her. Once accepted, my own perception of the world shall grant my daughter the freedom she brought upon me. The release of the self-afflicted self to the service of all. Here I would teach her, through my own being, that her gift shall serve the world, and in so serving the world, she shall be eternally free.
This is my current truth, nothing less, nothing more.
I believe presently Aspergers is an affliction of the human condition. I do not believe people with Aspergers are any different than the ‘typical’ person. I believe the person with Aspergers is in a heightened state of awareness. He or she is more aware of the inner makings of the mind and thoughts, and in thusly so, trapped in the pre-awakened state.
Wherein, many individuals can walk around without analyzing each and every decision, people still do. They are still thinking the same thoughts and reaching the same conclusions as a person with Aspergers; they are just less aware that they are doing so. By less, I do not mean worse or to a lesser degree; to me this is as if we are each looking through a window from the depths of our internal self. We each have the same window, the same beauty, the same ability and capacity, but some windows are covered with deeper films. Does this make the one seeing more clearly or less clearly any less? No. The window is still the window. And behind the window is still the ever-shining light.
This is not to say that only people with Aspergers have a keener view, only to say those with Aspergers seem to have a natural tendency to understand the inner workings of complex thoughts and reasonings, enabling them to venture into the intricate makings of philosophy, communication, and the “ways” of the world. How or why isn’t important at this time, whether a cosmic chance, a genetic variation, a spiritual affliction, or something else, doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is occurring.
In stating this, I understand that Aspergers is clearly a label, and nothing more: a manmade word that attempts to explain a cluster of behavioral, intellectual, and emotional attributes; a manmade word that has already reached the brink of extinction in man’s needling to make something of nothing. That is: to turn what already has been found and claimed, into another something to fit the maze of reasoning man has attempted to establish. To mix and fit a pre-established made up condition into another newly established seems the work of idle thinkers, but I make no judgment so, only to point out the audacity of their cause and how making one into another by name, does not make the person change in circumstance or personhood.
In stating this, too, I understand that many, many people are also at the edge of awakening, and having Aspergers is no less prerequisite than any other label man has invented, be that: female, male, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Agnostic, or what have you. But I do agree, within myself, and self alone, that what I have experienced as of late, demonstrates the potentiality of Aspergers to be more of a spiritual affliction of inner trappings than anything else. Perhaps it is the mind that makes this so, or something more; no difference. Whether one grasps onto the mind as the reason or the spirit, the end result is the same; at least for me, Aspergers felt as affliction—a wrought iron affliction it be.
In seeing this, the conclusion I have recently reached through the surfacing of my own relief from said affliction, I recognize there is absolutely no need for one to find relief through religion, or even spiritual refuge. The only relief I found, and was able to continue to bask in, is in the coming into my own self. That is to say digging back through where I had buried me, and finding her there weak, filling her with her own goodness found in self and others, and then purging with her all the unanswered hopes and dreams. Here together we worked through the labyrinth of lies of society and the game-makers, and the game-players we stared down steadily, each a harbor for the other, each adding to the armor we forbade. I cannot explain this process, even as I attempted to do in writing after writings, as I know only the eyes that look upon my words are the judge and decipherer, and no variable amount of steering or recollection one obtains will lead the one in the direction of my own thoughts. I have recognized, I am as ghost to the world, no more visible than the air one breathes, less so, in actuality, as one must feed off the air, and no one need feed off of me.
So alas, I am in this state of relief, having no roadmap to offer, except the words that pour out of me from a place of self so distant, yet so clear, that the offerings feel secure in their rendering, though funny they sound, indeed, even to the scriber who writes as witness with rising smile. I cannot say how I have found these things, or how I know these things, but the words I have let leak upon the past page upon page in the aforementioned works are my inner testimony. Whether I be mad woman, gifted genius, or something of another nature and finding, I know not, and I no longer struggle to understand something so unfamiliar and familiar to self all at once. I only know to love who this is that is this me, and to love who it is that is this you, and the rest makes no difference whatsoever in any measure. And so, from here, I can pour out from a place of love, wrung dry of all fear. The purpose only to be and nothing more, to pour out what is this me from vessel to substance, so I too can breathe in the absence of day.
In knowing Aspergers is an affliction, I state this not to negate the condition, to make it less, or wrong, or even sparse; I state this in hopes, if hope there be, in bringing further clarity to the viewer who takes in the ramblings of this twisted mind. I hope that in doing so the person can turn inward and find where she last stood, rediscover her lost hope and be who she is without pre-thought or want or need. That she can find her beauty locked behind the window bright.
In saying this I have established a roadmap of sorts, though I know nothing until I type, and am just as interested to see what surfaces as the next traveler come.
The makings of Aspergers are distinctively two-fold. In one degree there is the affliction. But this affliction is not brought on by sin or cause or some predestined circumstance. It just is. Whether created by self, or society, or God, or some other act of nature, who is to know, and who is to care. It is what it is at this moment, and nothing more. The first of the makings is the primary cause, what feed the rest, and this is the high-intellect that allows the person of Aspergers to analyze things and events at such depth that the mind can become thy very enemy. Lost in thought the world vanishes, and one lives in a prison, or chamber, depending on the imaginings and denial, and is there for eternity.
She is lost in the inner-workings of all she has brought into herself, all she has been taught, all she has seen and gathered. She is a deep basket, able to carry so much information and ponderings that it is no wonder she becomes lost in the basket itself and forgets that she is not this basket but the collector of self. She forgets she is not these thoughts, this past, this future, and this corresponding fear. She remains trapped in what feels like safety but which is actually a darkness of a forgotten self. She has been told by the many and the masses that she is less than, different, not enough, and to be forgotten. When in truth she is made more than enough, so complex in her thinkings, that the excess becomes her very tool to the victim.
She is making herself more confused in the searching. Responding to the agony of contradictions in two ways: searching out more and burying herself further and/or retreating into a dismal state of lost hope. These are the two paths she sees: One of needing to be more and one of needing to stay as less. Neither path leads to salvation from self.
The only path that I see worthy is through the process of elimination. Where we have been bred to take in more to aid us in dilemma, whether this be through product or wantings, the truth is to be found in taking in less. We have taken in enough already. And there are not answers waiting to be found that will set the afflicted free.
The only way to free oneself is to return to the chamber, say thee prison within, and stay there; and in the waiting find self and bring her into the light, bring her light out to the world. This is a personal and very intense process that can only be done through the very fragile thread of love of humanity. One must see the light in others and thusly find the light in self. One must see the light in all. This is extremely difficult for one so afflicted by what would be perceived as predators, villains, and rightful ones. Even the persecutors themselves play into the affliction. For the very thing that shall save the one, is the one that has in illusion hurt the one. But this is why the female with Aspergers has been given the gift of great emotion and love—all the emotions are two: love or fear. We can therefor turn off the fear and turn on the love. In this way the rest is burned out in the flame of love. It is the only way; there is no other path.
The second of the making is the ability to see between the lines, to decipher that there are no rights or wrongs. There are no rules. There are no reasons. We can clearly take in so many rules of the way to be that we become entirely unwound in ourselves from the reasonings behind the reasonings. From the start of no start. From the man running in some endless game. We see this clearly when we are engaged in conversation and struggling to be who we are to be, but not knowing who this being is. We see this in all we do. This is the affliction, as well, but the greatest of saviors. For how can we stay in such suffering? Endless suffering of seeing through the illusion.
Before we were told, by self, or by another to change, and to become that of what is the game before us. But this is not something that works. We have tried, and in trying we have found our very self retreating in form back into the chamber, hiding away, whether in reality or psyche/spirit, makes no difference. We are hiding. This is the same as the false path. The one of retreating or the one of trying to gather more information—in neither is the rescue found.
One must dive into the illusion and claim it for what it is. This can be done in various ways, but two distinct measures are in announcing your goodness and light to the world through speech, creation, and genuine love of heart. There can be no dismay, no fear, no misery, no blindness, no wanting and no reasoning behind it. This love of self must be rebirthed and then sprouted new, shared with the world. To do so before would cause greater separation of self and outcome, for to have such outcome without the root of love is to set yourself up for predetermined and definite failure. You can only speak from the place of heart—and you will know this place for it will heal you and the world.
You have been gifted all you need to make this excursion; through works or studies; through various outlets in your life; through what draws you in closer and makes you safe; choose these same ways of your avenue to deeper self; do what you must to take out the insides within and lay them out to the world. Cast away doubt that you are unlovable and unworthy and flawed. You have been given this affliction, whether formed by self, nature, or another, for reason, and the reason is for your freedom.
You aren’t trapped in the darkest of chambers; your window is being wiped clean daily, and in this you can see your path more clearly. You only need take the first step and acknowledge the affliction and all shall unfold as intended, and your goodness shall shine out to the world and set us each free, for you are an essential key to the changing of the tide: to pulling out the authentic cord of humanity so we may all sail through the sky in your light. Doubt not what I say, or choose to doubt. There is no choice I can make or perceive. I only say what is in my heart, and bid you do the same deed.
“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.”
~ Albert Einstein.
I have been praying and asking for guidance regarding my future vocation and avenue of service, and the answers very much entered through slipstream full force this early morn.
At first, I was given the message (through my little knowing voice) that my husband would over-sleep his five a.m. wakeup call (alarm) and be late for work, unless I was awake to wake him up. Hmmm. That was troubling, as with my own dyspraxia/dyslexia, I had no idea how to reset my own alarm in order to wake him up, as he was sleeping in my son’s bedroom. (Long story why we were in separate rooms, but basically boils down to dinosaur snoring, if there was such a thing.) I could have retrieved my phone from upstairs I suppose, but I wasn’t awake enough to think of that. So I tossed and turned in a type of vision-state for a bit over an hour. Knowing enough I had to stay partially awake.
I was certain time stood still, as the leap between the time of four to five seemed to take the stretch of a day. During this time I was shown image upon image.
I revisited my time at the university, the place I chose to leave a little over a year ago, based on the way I was discriminated against for mentioning I had Aspergers Syndrome. I revisited it all, the whole of it—emotions, illness brought on by the stress, the mourning process, the wanting to prove my side of the event and expose the injustice, the sob-filled-telling to my therapist and her concurring I had been the victim of appalling behavior on said professor’s part, the anger stage of wanting to sue, the humiliation part of being set up in a mediation that wasn’t a mediation…and on and on.
How dare they, is what I thought, and I spun and circled in mind about pulling up the evidence—the emails from the witness who at the time of mediation froze up and remembered nothing, the notes from my therapist, even my therapist’s comment that this man had a reputation, hearsay or not, she knew of him well, the notes from the Dean’s meeting, the Dean of the department warning me not to ever bring up the word Aspergers in professional setting: “It’s not the appropriate place.”
I dug up so much old stuff: the confusion of being accepted into a Masters in Counseling program that didn’t even want to know who I was, who didn’t even want to know how my mind functioned. The confusion of being told I was creating my condition (Aspergers) and announcing to the world my son’s brain (who has Aspergers) is broken. The confusion of receiving lower marks on my papers after the mediation took place. The confusion of one professor offering unsolicited advice about me, once she found out I had Aspergers. The meltdown of my self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love that dissipated much like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz into a molten black. Why was it I who had to undergo such pain?
I thought back to the high marks I received as an educator. Always the highest marks. How my college classes previously, through undergraduate work to my Master’s in Education program had been a place of safety. How the professors appreciated my input and intelligence. At times how I became the exemplary “one” or the teacher’s pet. I remembered how with every endeavor I’d ever set out to do, I had excelled, even exceeded others’ expectation. And here, in the span of little over a semester, with the hearing of the word Aspergers, the others, a set whom were supposed to be my mentors, painted me with their own muted greys into something I was not and am not.
Suddenly, all of me became what they saw. Suddenly, I had lost all I had built. With one swipe they knocked the self out of me.
And as I processed through the events and corresponding pain, I began to wonder what to do with this surfacing anger. A damaging letter came to mind: “Look at what they did to me.” And I let those thoughts come readily and steadily and tear into me one by one. I bled in my bed. I bled and bled, the tears of my soul seeking vengeance.
And then, with the passing of deep ache and hollowed out chance, I let the feeling go. I let the anger purge through me and erase the fear. I let the anger dance and take flight. I let the scenarios play out. I let the other me who wished to be free escape. And this shadow side, she wept more. Her screams the own echoes of demise and lack of rescue. For she had tried so very hard at this University, where her dream of being a therapist was going to come true. She read all of the “extra” books, did all of the “extra” credit, spent countless hours, setting aside her dyslexia and dyspraxia, in hopes of impressing her professors, and hopes they would see her, see her brilliance, see her mind, see the gift she so readily wanted to share with the world. This part of her less-ego than giving spirit. See me, see me, see me! That is all she wanted. That was all she ever wanted.
In receiving her diagnosis the world made sense to her finally. She wanted to celebrate. Four-decades of not knowing made sense in a split-second. Four-decades of intense suffering realized and ended with the blink of an eye. In the mention of a word. This gem of Aspergers had saved her, had brought her home onto herself.
And in knowing this, she wanted to share. She had to share. She had to let others know. “Look, I found the key. Look!”…….
And instead I was made to think I was broken. I was wrong. I was made to be pushed back into a hole and remain uncovered. Not one professor wanted to hear, wanted to know about Aspergers. Even in the beginning of the second-semester of my group-therapy class I was warned, we as class warned: Don’t share the diagnosis stuff here.
Really? I was so beside myself, how could I share in group therapy without sharing the essential element of who I thought myself to be and how I thought myself to function.
Could they not see I wasn’t broken? Could they not see that Aspergers was not a disease, not an illness, not anything beyond the way I saw the world?
And the questions came bubbling: Why would I be hushed, unless indeed I was entirely flawed? Why would I be told I created this, unless I was entirely unaware of my own self?
So much damage done, in so little time.
Today, before the sun rose, I wept in bed, the whole of my body sweating and seeping out the poison. And I turned and turned, half in sleep and half in agony. Lessons, lessons, and more lessons.
And then the peace finally came. Right when it was time to awaken my husband, I was awoken.
The clarity seeped through me. I saw that I had detoxed the emotions. I finally released the torturous anguish. I finally set my self free and their falsehood to rest.
I awoke fully with a knowing. I knew what I was supposed to do.
I was to teach others, teach the teachers of the teachers, the educators of future counselors and psychologist, the parents, the caretakers, the women of tender-heart and soul like me. Teach them that Aspergers is nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide away. Teach the beauty of who we are to erase the darkness that once pushed me into hiding.