356: Teaching the Teachers

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.

The ABCs of Aspergers

The ABCs Of Aspergers

These attributes describe some of the wonderful qualities people with Aspergers may have:

A: Apologetic, Admit fault, Avoid superficial conversation, Accepting of quirks

B: Brilliant in chosen field of study

C: Capable, Caring, Complimentary, Creative, Clever problem solvers

D: Detail oriented, Driven, Devoted, Dauntless in Interests, Dependable, Deep Thinkers, Don’t Discriminate, Don’t have hidden agendas, Defend the weak

E: Enthusiastic, Exhibit Exceptional Endurance, Entertaining, Enlightened

F: Fact Finders, Forthright, Forgiving, Free from prejudice, Fruitful

G: Genuine, Good memory for facts and details

H: High-level of Integrity, Honest, Highly Focused

I:  Intelligent, Imaginative, Idealists, Ingenious, Instructive

J:  Justice seekers, Just

K: Knowledgeable, Kind

L: Loyal, Look for goodness and genuineness in friends, Listen without judgment

M: Memory can be exceptional, Memorable conversationalist

N: Not bullies, Not manipulative, Not deceptive, Not game players, Not inclined to lie and steal

O: Original thinkers, Open to new information, Outstanding, Optimistic despite setbacks

P: Puzzle solvers, Pattern finders, Pragmatic, Philosophical thinkers, Poetic, Passionately Pursue interests

Q: Quick learners, Quick thinkers, Question “truths” and opinions

R: Reliable, Regard others for their personhood, Routine establishers, Rule followers

S:  Sincere, Solution finders, Speak their mind, Strength in endeavors, Strong moral code, Sensitive to Sensory Stimuli

T: Talented, Trusting, Think in Pictures, Truth Seekers

U: Unique perspective and outlook

V:  Valiant, Vigilant, Advanced Vocabulary

W: Word interest, Witty humor, Wonderful Work ethics

X:  Non-Xenophobic

Y:  Youthful-outlook, Yearn for truth

Z:  Zestful, Zealous

I don’t know about you, but I think the world could do with a few more people like this!

It is human nature to classify and to make sense out of chaos. It is human nature to look for a reason and cause, especially in the aftermath of tragedy. It is also, oftentimes, a part of the human condition to find a scapegoat.

Using Aspergers or Autism Spectrum Disorders as a scapegoat is wrong. It is a form of discrimination.

Aspergers is not a mental illness. It does not lead to insanity or cause insane actions. Aspergers is a neurological condition that experts believe affects the frontal lobe of the brain, a condition that leads to differences in neurological function. It is a condition of the brain.

Though some would argue, Aspergers is a condition of the spirit, and simply a way of sensing the world in a different way than the typical person.

People with Aspergers are extremely bright, well-spoken, and loving individuals.

Claiming that a horrific event was caused because a person has an autism spectrum disorder does nothing but cause misery and pain to a group of individuals already facing discrimination and challenges.

It is a falsehood that Aspergers could in and of itself lead to violence. Aspergers, like all neurological conditions, causes challenges in day-to-day life, but it does not cause a person to be heartless or evil.

On the contrary, I know and relate to hundreds of people with Aspergers, and they have proven time and time again to be open-minded, wise beyond their years, fair and just, extremely honest, and compassionate. These people with ASD are some of the most caring and empathetic people I have met.

I am glad to call many people with Aspergers my friends and trusted confidants.

It saddens me deeply that we live in a society that is quick to lay blame without adequate research or inquiry. It saddens me that some of the brightest lights on this planet, often writers, artists, poets, and philosophers, are being pegged as somehow wrong and in need of fixing.

I know who I am. I know who my son is. We both happen to have Aspergers. This does not make us any better or worse than the rest of the citizens in our community. It is just an additional part of our personhood.

It is often the deprived, unloved and lost person who performs harmful acts. If we want to stop such acts we need to love others, provide safety, direction and support. We need to have a system in place that identifies children in need and then helps the children, regardless of financial implications.

There is much we can do to make a positive difference. I encourage you to stop supporting organizations and businesses that spread untruths for profit, and encourage you to start spreading your own truth.

Blessings ~ Sam

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/my-life-aspergers/201212/asperger-s-autism-and-mass-murder

 

Helpful Link

Day 44: The ABC’s of Discrimination: I will not be made to feel ashamed of Aspergers!

Many of you know that I’ve held off on describing what I experienced recently while I was a student in the counseling program at the local university. I believe waiting  was a beneficial decision.

Today, I have arrived at a place of closure, over the events that have transpired. I cannot say I am at peace, but I am definitely thinking more clearly and feeling more centered than I have in weeks.

I believe now I have the capacity to share my experience with clarity and without undertones of self-pity and pain. I share primarily to expose the discrimination that can occur towards individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. Please keep in mind I was a successful teacher for many years, earning the highest marks, and that I was never subjected to unjust criticism or unsolicited advice. No one knew I had Aspergers when I was a teacher. Not even me.

Yesterday I met with the Dean of Education, whom I found to be forthright, careful, and kind. She listened patiently as I lamented about my experiences with the professors. I cried for the entirety—a good thirty-minutes. Because of the position she holds at the university, there wasn’t much she could offer in terms of condolence or her opinions.

She did state, in so many words, that the group of professors heading the counseling department at the university tend to have “their views,” but that their views don’t represent everyone, of course.

Their views meaning the family system theory view.

Their views meaning: Asperger’s Syndrome is created and perpetuated by family members’ words, actions, subconscious drives, and by family dynamics. In other words Aspergers is not the result of brain functioning, environment, and/or genetics.  And Aspergers is definitely not a different way of looking at the world or high intelligence. Aspergers is a syndrome created by family members.

I can’t see myself striving in an environment where close-minded teachers are compartmentalizing individuals based on their own narrow and biased theories. Where they are desperately lacking in current theories and personal accounts regarding Aspergers. Where they have no interest at all to know how Aspergers manifests itself in individuals. Where I wasn’t once asked: What’s that like?

A place where I was queried by a licensed mental health therapist with a PHD in psychology, my professor: “Are you happy you have pronounced to the world your brain and your son’s brain are broken?”

A place where I was told that I had “likely manifested my own Asperger’s Syndrome in order to be closer to my son.”

A place where I was accused of taking my child to a psychiatrist, “so you (I) can put him on medication and not have to deal with the real issues.” (Not that it matters, but my son isn’t on any medication.)

A place where I received the following email from a professor after I professionally disputed a grade, because I was very aware the professor had not kept accurate records of student work: “Another faculty concern is tone and professionalism when communicating conflict. This is very important when requests are made both here in school and in your future work. You yourself, if you become a counselor, will need to remain calm and non-defensive in dealing with many clients who are upset and dysregulated.”

She prefaced this email with the assumption that since I had told her I had Asperger’s Syndrome that I was open to any of her advice.

There is more I could share, but I think this paints a clear picture.

In leaving the university yesterday, I carried away two of the dean’s statements:

1)   Based on everything you have told me I think it is best you don’t continue in the program.

2)   It is probably best if you don’t tell professionals you have Aspergers. It’s not the appropriate environment. They aren’t your therapists.

I am left perplexed and unsettled. I am concerned that this faculty will continue educating hundreds of counseling students. I am concerned that the dean is not instigating change.

And I have been turning over and over in my mind why Aspergers is something I was cautioned to hide.

Yes, I understand that by telling my professors I had Aspergers that I was treated differently, some would conjecture harshly. But is the solution for me to remain quiet and in hiding?

Is that what minorities have done in the past to be heard, to be seen, to achieve fairness, equity, and justice?

Is Aspergers such a widely misunderstood condition that I should retreat in shame?

This morning I came across this comment: “My son has just been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. My husband and I both sadly agree that we would rather that our son have diabetes.” (Paraphrased from a comment found on an online chat room.)

How is keeping my Aspergers hidden going to help this ignorance?

Here are more stereotypical views about people with Aspergers:

Negative

Pessimistic

Self-defeatist

Mindset of a child

Self-centered

Lack people skills

Only see the world through their narrow point of view

Difficulty expressing emotions

Insensitive

Lack empathy

Come across as know-it-alls

Behavioral problems

Fake their feelings

Poorly equipped to thrive

Benchwarmers

Geeks

Annoying

Stupid

Here is the truth of Aspergers

The REAL ABC’s Of Asperger’s

These attributes describe some of the wonderful qualities people with Aspergers possess:

A: Apologetic, Admit fault, Avoid superficial conversation, Accepting of quirks

B: Brilliant in chosen field of study

C: Capable, Caring, Complimentary, Creative, Clever problem solvers

D: Detail oriented, Driven, Devoted, Dauntless in Interests, Dependable, Deep Thinkers, Don’t Discriminate, Don’t have hidden agendas, Defend the weak

E: Enthusiastic, Exhibit Exceptional Endurance, Entertaining, Enlightened

F: Fact Finders, Forthright, Forgiving, Free from prejudice, Fruitful

G: Genuine, Good memory for facts and details

H: High-level of Integrity, Honest, Highly Focused

I:  Intelligent, Imaginative, Idealists, Ingenious, Instructive

J:  Justice seekers, Just

K: Knowledgeable, Kind

L: Loyal, Look for goodness and genuineness in friends, Listen without judgment

M: Memory can be exceptional, Memorable conversationalist

N: Not bullies, Not manipulative, Not deceptive, Not game players, Not inclined to lie and steal

O: Original thinkers, Open to new information, Outstanding, Optimistic despite setbacks

P: Puzzle solvers, Pattern finders, Pragmatic, Philosophical thinkers, Poetic, Passionately Pursue interests

Q: Quick learners, Quick thinkers, Question “truths” and opinions

R: Reliable, Regard others for their personhood, Routine establishers, Rule followers

S:  Sincere, Solution finders, Speak their mind, Strength in endeavors, Strong moral code, Sensitive to Sensory Stimuli

T: Talented, Trusting, Think in Pictures, Truth Seekers

U: Unique perspective and outlook

V:  Valiant, Vigilant, Advanced Vocabulary

W: Word interest, Witty humor, Wonderful Work ethics

X:  Non-Xenophobic

Y:  Youthful-outlook, Yearn for truth

Z:  Zestful, Zealous

I don’t know about you, but I think the world could do with a few more people like this!

Please share this page if you are inclined. I don’t know what my role is in all of this is, but I know I won’t stand in silence. I know the difference between right and wrong.

In love and peace ~ Sam Craft

© Everyday Aspergers, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. https://aspergersgirls.wordpress.com

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