Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Mentoring and Reaching Out to Younger Aspergians
Having experienced firsthand the difficult and tumultuous years of high school and even middle school as an Aspergian, I believe in the importance of an older generation of Aspergians developing an empathetic side for young adults who are experiencing the deep hurt resulting from social ostracization. Especially in youth, a stage of development, growth, and learned maturity, we are much more sensitive and vulnerable to the labels, jeers, and hurtful words of others.
Growing up, I didn't have a support system to deal with my anger, frustration, and depression, and it took a toll on me years later, as I put up a wall between myself and others, avoiding friendships and relationships for fear of getting hurt again. I felt that the less people knew me, the fewer opportunities they would have to expose and make fun of my oddities and quirks. With a support system, an older friend and mentor, I believe I could have learned earlier on to be open to the idea that there are also people who would have accepted me for who I was, awkwardness and all! It took several years down the road for me to start making friends again, but when I finally did, it sowed the seeds of trust and openness, which snowballed into confidence and taking risks. I just wish I had had someone who had been in my shoes, and overcome. There is a distinct bonding element of the shared human experience, and I challenge adults with Aspergers to be this catalyst to success for young adults with our "condition" who face adversity in an overwhelmingly neurotypical society. As the old saying goes, it takes one to know one!
Do you have a child, cousin, or younger brother or sister with Aspergers? Try sitting down with them and sharing some of your greatest challenges and successes at their age as an Aspergian. Find and focus on any commonalities!