The only way my own mother knew

I grew up in the 1980’s where there was very little information available for people to understand Autism Spectrum Disorders. Many people on the Autism Spectrum were left unnoticed and misdiagnosed. There was not the diversity or understanding about Autism Spectrum Disorders as there is today. Most people thought of a person with Autism as Dustin Hoffman’s character in the 1988 film, Rain Man. The movie actually portrayed a man with Savant Syndrome whose family had placed him in an institution because they were unable to handle his strange and difficult behavior.

Unfortunately, most people today still view a person with Autism the same way. The misdiagnosing of people on the Autism Spectrum still continues to occur. The sudden attention of the various disorders within the spectrum has shined some light and has brought about media coverage. This exposure has helped to make the medical community become more knowledgeable enabling them to correctly diagnose individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This exposure has made people believe that there is an epidemic of autism, however, this is not so. Previously, these individuals were misdiagnosed with various mental illnesses when in reality they had Pervasive Developmental Disorder. There is no epidemic today but the large number of correct diagnoses shows the sudden understanding of autism in the medical community.

My mother raised me knowing that I was different from my brothers, cousins, and other children growing up with me. She knew that there was something unusual about me but did not understand why. She sought out medical assistance but was never satisfied with the answer they provided. She felt deep down inside of her the need to uncover what made me function differently than everybody else. Only in my early twenties did I discover the real source of my unusual behavior.

I attribute my success today to the persistence and care of my mother. Throughout my life even though she knew I was different, she has always been there for me. She enabled me to grow despite my handicaps and become a productive member of society. She continues to build my self-esteem and to challenge me to be independent and work hard. My mother has an innate understanding of what is best for me. Her natural qualities of patience and social skills have enabled me to have a true sense of who I am as a person.

My life growing up was very difficult and rocky most of the time. Throughout my life my peers, teachers, and siblings did not have an understanding of who I was or why I acted and said things that they deemed odd. Life was and continues to be a challenge for me every day. Life is quite different for a child on the autism spectrum and know matter how one tries they can not compete with their “Neurotypical” counterparts.

As I moved through various periods of my life there was many times where I wanted to do things when I was not ready to. My mother would tell me “Jason, be patient and listen to me, I am only trying to help.” However, there were many times when I would push myself harder than my mother felt I should. I would become frustrated feeling I was held back, but she always would boost me up with words of encouragement.

Many people felt that without having tenacity a person can not achieve anything. My life has driven me to make it in a field where only Neurotypicals achieve. My drive has given me a sense of accomplishment. I have become just as good as my Neurotypical peers who are in the field of Cardiac and Vascular Technology by proving to them that by struggling eventually you achieve what you want to. Sometimes you must feel inside of you what you desire even though it’s a rough road, and go with it anyways no matter how tough it can become.

My life’s journey brings about many individuals who help guide me. At times these individuals became more influential then my support system. However, there are many misinformed individuals who have no understanding about Autism Spectrum Disorders. These individuals can be very insensitive and cruel. They can cause pain, humiliation with no sense of our feelings. However, in order to reach for the stars you must recognize who is helping and who is hampering. Learning to use our instincts is the best way to handle these situations even when we don’t like what are instincts tell us.

In order to have success in the world you must listen carefully to what people say and to make clear judgments for yourself.  No matter what seems to happen in my life, I always show the tenacity and drive to keep on going.  As a current friend always tells me, “I am like the energizer bunny.”

Success equals Special Unknown Catalyst Carving Extraordinary Social Skills

out, J

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3 thoughts on “The only way my own mother knew

  1. Takashi Miyake

    Dear Jason,
    I loved your writing about your mother. I have a 17-year old daughter who attends Cook Academy, a special education school in SoHo. She has a learning disability and other issues. I actually work with your brother, Eric who told me about your blog. My daughters and I love Bronx Zoo. I heard from Eric that you love that place, too and that you are a member. I am a member as well and take my daughters there quite often. Hope to meet you in person one of these days at the zoo. Regards,