In honor of National Autism Awareness Month, I would like to briefly describe my healing journey in the autism community in the past 6 weeks. This experience has been enormously liberating and transformative in a very short time.
My journey began with attending the Autism Speaks Walk in West Palm Beach, Florida, in early March. On this day I discovered that I had found a humane and compassionate community that understood and accepted me for who I was. I met with members of Autism Speaks and vendors who were moved and touched by my story. I enjoyed being in an emotionally safe environment where I could be my authentic self and where I was not punished for my social deficit. I found a group of people who validated me and treated me with a respect that I rarely received in mainstream society. I found a place where I belonged.
This experience allowed me to begin healing from the trauma of repeated rejection in mainstream society. The feeling of acceptance gave me strength and hope for my future and a feeling that my contribution to the world was meaningful and significant. I began to realize that my authentic self was valued and appreciated.
Following this event, I had a highly productive meeting with a local disability organization in South Florida. At this meeting, I received additional encouragement for my work along with practical suggestions for writing my book on self-employment and work from home options for autistic people. This meeting helped me to begin rebuilding my shattered self-confidence and reinforced my feeling that I belonged in the disability community.
In late March, I gave a presentation on my painful experiences in the workplace to a group of masters students in vocational rehabilitation. I suffered numerous PTSD attacks prior to this presentation because I was forced to relive my traumatic ordeals and and a long history of rejection in the workplace. But I found a humane, accepting, and compassionate response to my story from the professor and her students. And this presentation allowed me to continue on my healing journey from my painful trauma and to begin moving forward toward a brighter and higher destiny.
I want to thank Autism Speaks and the broader autism community for accepting, embracing, nourishing, and supporting me. I have found a compassionate and humane environment which is promoting my healing process and allowing me to regain my inner emotional strength and self-confidence. The acceptance of others has made it easier to accept myself and to open my heart to the possibility of positive interaction and reconnection with society.