Monday, April 30, 2012

Julie Clark to ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers: #AutismPositivity2012

Without Asperger's, I'd be sitting here - or who knows where - with a closed mind and a limited view of pretty much everything related to autism. Before my daughter was born, I had a very restricted understanding of what autism was, let alone knowing it encompasses a spectrum.

My daughter was born with Asperger's Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and she has changed my life for the better. Also known as the "star" of "Asperger's in PINK", she is in the process of touching the lives of many, helping families understand what it means for a young child and her family to walk this path.

Could I sit here and complain about the lack of playdates, or coffees with other moms when she was younger? Or the hash glares and unkind words muttered and uttered about my daughter and her family? Sure. Everyone can complain about anything if they set their minds to it, can't they? Don't they?

Heck, my kid can just as easily complain about me. She's a teen. It's wired into teen DNA to gripe and want to "fix" mom, isn't it? Moms have an uncanny ability to embarrass their children in public, simply by saying something along the lines of, "I love you, sweetie pie!"

Especially if the "child" is old enough to drive.

(We've all been there in some form or another, haven't we?)

But Asperger's is an integral part of my life. It helps me rethink my wording. It causes me to view the world a bit differently. The way my daughter interprets the world around me is fascinating, and her intellect is astounding. If anything, it shows me how important it is to be who we truly are meant to be, as opposed to what "they" (whoever "they" are) tells us who "they" think we should be.

And that, is a good thing.

If you are reading this and wishing you did not have Asperger's, it's ok to take time to understand what it all means. But choose to listen to the myriad of voices who also have it, who understand why it can be a positive thing. There are many.

And if you ask my daughter, in particular, if she had the choice, would she remain an Aspie, she would say, "yes". 

Trust me, I have, and that's what she told me.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Us vs Them. Again.

On Friday, April 27, I will be a guest on the Autism Women's Network program (see widget to the right --->). It truly is an honor. As anyone can see from viewing my blog, autism, including the "pink" end of the Autism Spectrum, is very important to me. Understanding it, increasing awareness about it, accepting those who are on it, and encouraging everyone to see each other as people.

Yes, people.

Unfortunately, there is often too much talk (regarding those on the higher functioning end, such as Asperger's) about "fixing them".

Or, should I say, "fixing them".


I never have liked that word. It draws a line in the sand and separates us into "us" vs "them."

And, if you'd ask my daughter, she'd say hers is not the group "in need of fixing".

And why does everyone need "fixing", anyway?

Personally, I'd like to see each other as, well, each other. Neighbors. Coworkers. Daughters. People who have so much to contribute to society, if only "us" would let "them."

From time to time, I ask folks on my book's Facebook page  or Twitter what it is about Asperger's that makes them happy. For many, it is an increase in perspective and a new way of looking at things. For some, intelligence. For others, it can be as complex as having help embedding some sort of technological contraption into some unpronounceable program, or as simple as pushing us to cut through the "fluff" of so many things in order to see the true picture. These answers come from both Aspies and their parents.

As Autism Awareness Month rounds out, let's choose to understand each other. To agree to disagree at times. To learn from each other. (Heaven knows my kid teaches me so very much!) To listen, truly listen to each other, whether or not "someone uses eye contact and appropriate inflection". Listening to different voices and perspectives does wonders to shape our own, doesn't it?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Where the Heck Have I Been?

Wow, sometimes, time flies. Other times, it runs away from you so quickly, it's as if you've entered a time warp.

Such has been late February through today.

2012 started with grand dreams, big plans and a vision that meant a full push forward on many fronts. Speaking engagements, new writing, new book work, growing my small business, and keeping track of a teen who is growing so fast I want to put my head in the sand.

Then February ended with a bang. Literally. As my regular readers know, my husband suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage - bleeding on the brain. Thankfully, he is doing rather well. However, the recovery process has been quite slow, and left us reprioritizing so many things, as is often the case for anyone who has undergone anything similar.

Let's not forget writing one of THE most boring blogs of my life. Boring, but practical and important, nonetheless.

But it's time to pick up where things left off, moving forward with a new perspective and an increased drive.

So, what's on tap for the remainder of 2012? Here are the grand plans, and a few announcements!:
Photo of South Hall, Geneseo, from April speaking engagement
  • Continue speaking on Asperger's and Autism Spectrum Disorders
    • Interested in having me speak? Send me an email and we can go from there!
  • Work on a second book
  • Changing the name of the fiber side of my small business from "Julie Clark Art" to "Wave & Willow, a Division of Julie Clark Art". (After all, it's a bit of a stretch to call a tote a piece of fine art...)
  • Wave & Willow
  •  I've got a bran' spankin' NEW author page on Facebook! Click HERE: Author, Julie Clark to find it and "like" it.
    • This is where to go to find information about upcoming interviews, speaking engagements, blog posts, as well as personal bits from time to time.
And, of course, there's more. Thanks so much for being a part of all this! Wishing you the best for the rest of 2012 and beyond!


    Monday, April 2, 2012

    Celebrate World Autism Awareness Day!

    That’s right – celebrate it! Yes, there are challenges. Yes, the more impaired the person, the more the need for services. And, yes, I fully understand wanting the ability to verbally communicate and take care of oneself.


    There ARE things to celebrate about someone you love who has autism.

    Ask some with Asperger’s, if they had the chance, would they become neurotypical? Some might say “yes”. My daughter would say “no”.

    I know, because we’ve talked about it, and she doesn’t think she’s the one in need of changing.

    Today, my family celebrates autism. Having a child on the spectrum is making us better people. It is forcing us to see the world through another lens. For most with autism, it’s a blue lens, while for is, it’s pink.

    I could go on – and I have. But you already know that.

    We often spend too much time talking about what’s “wrong”, what needs “fixing” and what needs to be “modified”. It can really suck the energy out of us  to think like a repair person, with the individual getting lost in the middle of it all, right?

    So, let’s celebrate our kids, ourselves, even. What do you love about the special person in your life who has autism? Do you have an Autism Spectrum Disorder? What is it you like about being on the spectrum?

    For my daughter, it’s complex. Oft time, she’s living in a world where others chose to need more social skills that she does (ironic, isn’t it?), but knowing that no matter how hard it can be at times, she is who she is supposed to be.  A person with Asperger’s. A person who deserves to be loved, understood and a friend.

    Are you wearing blue today? We are. And we’ll probably stick a bow in Mr. FrouFrou’s topknot, too.