I was asked to write this article about coping with autism. A few months ago I would have been okay with writing an article on coping with autism. But today I’m not. Because for the first time in my life I’m not coping with autism; I’m learning to live happily with autism.
I suppose you could still consider it coping but coping doesn’t sound positive enough for me. Like many adults on the spectrum, so many parents of children on the spectrum, and children themselves living with autism I spent years trying to cope or get by with autism.
Coping with autism made it worse for me. I needed to be living happily with autism. This is something that I’ve begun learning. I used to be so frustrated with autism that I didn’t even know where to begin trying to cope with it. I’m very high functioning. I have Asperger’s Syndrome. While frustrations for people on the spectrum will be different due to functioning levels we can all agree that socializing and friendships are probably the most difficult challenges.
For years I wanted to have a real and true friend. But I didn’t know how. I wanted to have an awesome life but I didn’t know how. I was looking for this magical pill or medicine that was going to make all of this happen. When I couldn’t find that magic pill or medicine I wanted someone else to fix everything for me. I didn’t know how to fix it but didn’t feel that autism was my fault and I wanted someone else to fix it.
I was stuck in a bout of depression. I was trying to cope with autism. What I’ve learned from my best friend now is that I can do so much more than just “cope” with autism.
I can live happily and successfully with autism. There comes a point and time in everyone’s life rather autistic or not that we all want to give up and throw in the towel. I was there. But I have decided not to let that be the defining point of my life. That isn’t want I want to be remembered for.
I wanted to be remembered as someone who embraced autism and worked hard to overcome it. Not just someone who spent years of their life coping with autism. I want to live happily and successfully.
While there is no cure for autism I do know that the closest I’ll ever get to being cured is by having a true friend who accepts me for who I am and accepts all of my autistic traits.
The cure is simple. There doesn’t need to be a cure. Everyone needs hope in their lives. True friends provide that hope.
I found that when I’m willing to work super hard at controlling my autistic traits and tendencies my friend is willing and happy to work really hard on accepting them and embracing my traits herself.
The first step in learning to “cope” (live happily) with autism is accepting the diagnosis. It doesn’t matter if you’re the person on the spectrum or a parent to the child on the spectrum. You must accept it.
The second step is to embrace and love yourself or that person you know on the spectrum. I have found that once I started accepting it and myself I begun to like myself more. Today, I can think of two or three amazing qualities I have that trump every autistic trait that I have.
I bet if you sit back and think about yourself or your child you can see and find the same. When you can shift your mindset from learning how to “cope” with autism to learning how to “live happily and successfully” with autism you’ll begin to see a lot of great changes in your life.
I didn’t know what a true friendship really was before I started trying to make this mind shift. Now I’m learning what true friendship is because I have a friend who’s willing and happy to show me.
When I was coping with autism I was trying to get friends to tolerate me. When I began embracing autism and being happy with myself I started wanting people to like me for the person I was and found that not only did a friend tolerate me she appreciated me.
I’m a firm believer in the fact that 90% of life is about attitude. When we wake up each morning we make a choice about how our day is going to be. For years I was making the wrong choices and getting horrible results. Once I started to make the right choice I began to see improvements to my life.
The best thing you can do for your child is help them realize this. Then once they realize this help them meet friends.
One thing I do not like seeing is when people shelter their kids from social interaction out of fear they may be hurt. While I certainly understand a parent’s concern and it is a very valid one I can tell you if you shelter your kids and don’t ever let them try and experience social interaction they will end up being hurt much worse in the long run than they will by making mistakes socially in the short term.
I encourage adults on the spectrum to be social. Attend events. Meet new people. But most importantly never hide who you are. My friend knows all about my autism. I try not to use any of it as an excuse but she knows it and is aware. When there are misunderstandings that occur in our friendship we communicate.
I’ve found that the difference between a true friend and a fake friend is their willingness to communicate and work through issues.
True friends ask questions about what your intentions are. They don’t make assumptions. Communication improves friendships for everyone. Not just people with autism.
Another key element to living happily with autism is to find a passion and run with it. My passion is writing and talking to parents of children with autism and helping people. Find out what you are good at and enjoy. Help your son or daughter find what their niche is and help them develop that.
Really I’m not the best person to write an article on coping with autism because I never really learned how to cope with it. I simply learned that it was something I didn’t need to learn how to cope with. I needed to learn how to live happily with it instead.
I encourage you to do the same and to help your loved ones do the same as well.
When you make the shift from coping with autism to living happily with autism you have learned how to cope with autism.
FAIR – Junior Advisory Board
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