(Sometimes it’s an ordinary trip to the shoe store that really makes it clear how important it is that Dillan have access to the full 26 letters on a keyboard or letterboard, and the proper support and strategies that allow him to tell us something unexpected (and belly-tickling) like this…)
Mom: Dillan, what do you think about these shoes?
Dillan: I was initially skeptical because they looked awful in the box, but on my feet they are not as ugly.
Mom: You’ve tried on a few different ones. Which do you like best?
Dillan: Seems that it would be fitting to choose the underdog shoe.
(Of course it would!)
Now that I have a voice, I am seen and heard in a way that had never been possible before. Anyone who sees in my inner mind, sees me. Autism is a voice too, but not in the way I want to be heard. People all can hear my autism, and they interpret from it a lot about who I am. Before I had a voice, I was locked away in a prison of a body that was uncontrollable. No one saw me inside trying to love those that loved me too. Before, my world was in total isolation. My family loved me, and I felt their love and wished I could speak to them and say, “I’m in here.” They, more and more every day, saw autism acting in my place. Autism acting out my feelings of loneliness in the way I line up my animals, in the way I make my piles, in the way I scream and laugh. Always autism acting in my place, not me. Not my mind that wanted to love back and to be included. Hard to describe a world that is in total control of you. Hard to describe how impossible it was to be always in prison. No words can fully explain. My words fill in parts of an experience that I existed in. An experience that was totally overwhelming in my senses and in my emotions. I was in chains, made helpless by a sensory and emotional system that was faulty.
Appearances, I suppose, really matter to people. Each day I shaped people’s perceptions about me with my autism. It took finding that person who could imagine me before really seeing me, to break through. A person who believed in me and had so much confidence in me when I had none, was a person worth working as hard as I could for to push through the autism to relate back. Rarely has a person been able to see past my autism. When I had really reached that place where I could type out my words and have them seen, read, and heard, then I could tell the people in my life what was happening to me, what I was struggling with, and what I was feeling. I could give them a way to help me that I could never have before. I can finally speak for myself now. I can talk with a voice. A voice that is now being heard. An autistic voice that is being heard around the world in people’s own lives and in their own families.
Been a year since I graduated from middle school. Hard to believe I made it through 9th grade! In all seriousness, I really had a lot of worry about the reality of having to take all regular classes. Taking all my classes was a major challenge, and one I am happy to say I feel proud of.
The only thing that helps me calm my body is running. I really need it like air. To be a part of a really amazing group of people which also have running in their hearts is like nothing I have felt before. So a few days ago I ran in the first cross country meet. That day I easily thought about not running, but then I realized that I had the opportunity to just try. Having the practice and support from the other members of my team behind me motivated me to try. In some especially strange way, their support allowed me to dare myself.