Thursday, February 19, 2015

Strength and Honor and Courage

I know that in some cases there are autistic people out there who will voice their willingness to step up and do something positive for either themselves or for others, and yet, when the time comes for them to actually do that something, they will shy away. There are obviously antisocial problems that autistic people struggle with on a daily basis, and the core reasoning for these problems is the fact that sometimes we do lack that inner strength to go do what we said we were going to do.

One of my favorite movies of all-time would be Gladiator, the story of a Roman war general who wanted to go back home but was then caught in the middle of a trap, betrayed by his supposed brother. One of the many quotes in this movie that sticks out to me to this day would be "Strength and Honor". It's very simple and it's right to the point. It's a quote that easy to understand. Where's the inner strength of a person? Where is the honor of that person? If you have honor then that means you have integrity and that you word is solid and true. If you have inner strength then that means you can will yourself to endure any and all obstacles that come flying at you, and if you do get hit by them, you will know how to recover.

Life can be and will be a struggle. Without the act of struggling, you haven't really experienced life. Life isn't all doom and gloom and it isn't all sunshine and rainbows. If your life doesn't have that kind of balance, then something is missing in at least one sense. Before some of the most successful sports athletes got to experience the thrill of victory, they had to experience the agony of defeat first, and then when they got back to the championship game, they were better prepared for their challenges.

Another favorite movie of mine would be The Blind Side, which also has a book out about this story. This was a story about a homeless kid who was basically a wandering nomad in Tennessee, having nowhere to go and nowhere to really call home. Michael Oher would eventually be adopted by the Tuohy family and he would slowly come out of his shell to develop better social skills, find his true calling and succeed at something he was good at, which was the game of football. Now Michael Oher isn't autistic but I am using him as an example of someone who initially didn't have the drive, but through motivation obtained that drive.

One powerful point of The Blind Side featured Michael needing to write up an essay at the end of his Senior year in high school, and he wrote about The Charge of the Light Brigade poem. This scene in particular had Michael reading his essay out loud in narration while we were shown his journey from the beginning of the movie up to that point. He talked about "Courage and Honor" Here's a snip-it of Mike's essay, which was beautifully written in my opinion.

Michael Oher:
"Sometimes you might even know why you're doing something. I mean any fool can have courage. But honor, that's the real reason why you either do something or you don't. It's who you are and maybe who you want to be. If you die trying for something important, then you have both honor and courage, and that's pretty good. I think that's what the writer was saying, that you should hope for courage and try for honor. And maybe even pray that the people telling you what to do have some, too."

It's indeed true what Maximus said in Gladiator. "What we do in life, echoes in eternity." For all of my readers who are on the Autism Spectrum, this is the point that I want to get across. No matter what is thrown your way in life, no matter how big or how small your life's obstacles are, you keep fighting. You keep pulling through not only for yourself but for those who are close to you and those who love you. There will be a point in your life where you may be visibly fighting your own weaknesses as an autistic person, and that is where you need to build up that courage, develop that inner strength to move forward and have the honor of doing something that's more important than just anything that relates to you. If you quit and walk away, you not only quit on yourself but on everyone who believed in you.

Strength and Honor and Courage...

"Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions." That quote is from the Russell Crowe movie Robin Hood. This is also a significant quote. You may be as gentle as a lamb but you can't show weakness in front of your enemies. If you get knocked down, you have to get back up. Otherwise your oppressors are going to keep tormenting you because they will get the idea that you are weak. Simply put, you are not weak. I believe all of us autistic people need to go through a "toughening up period" where we experience so many setbacks, so much oppression and more than enough heartbreak where we need to look in the mirror and just tell ourselves that we need to be vigilant and strong like lions.

I really hope this message in particular was clear enough for my readers.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Don't Be Afraid To Fail

Don't be afraid to fail. Let's keep it this simple.

Don't be afraid to go out there and try new things. Don't be afraid to step out in faith and voice your opinions on important topics. Don't be afraid to confront someone if you believe that he or she is in the wrong about something. Don't be afraid to go your own way even if everyone else goes the polar opposite way. Don't be afraid to challenge the status quo instead of just accepting the status quo. Don't be afraid to succeed even if everyone around you is mocking you and putting you down.

Don't be afraid to embrace the support that you do get, and don't be afraid to embrace the hate that you will often get.

Don't be afraid. Period. The only fear that I am okay with having in my life is having the fear of God. I only fear that I will do something wrong before my heavenly father God. To me it doesn't matter what my haters think of me. It absolutely matters what God thinks of me. Living in fear means that you are not willing to pursue the truth head on. Living in fear means that you want to stay in darkness and not look for the light. Living in fear means that you have accepted defeat and have dismissed victory. I don't believe that's the kind of life God would want us to live.

In general terms, I know there are many people out there that want to see you fail, stumble and make a fool of yourself. Some people just don't know when to quit. Some people just don't care. Others intentionally set up a stage where they try to trap you in failure. Those people want to make an example out of you just to highlight themselves in comparison. Who really fails in this scenario?

It's difficult to overcome obstacles for those who are on the Autism Spectrum. There are different variables involved. An autistic person could develop the right mindset where he or she says to him- or herself "Hey! You know what? I'm not gonna fail today! I won't let that happen!", but then they do fail and they revert right back to the "Woe is me" attitude that they previously had. That has happened to me plenty of times. I developed the courage that I wasn't going to get my head down from failing, but then failure hit me, and it hit me so hard that I discarded that courage.

Without experiencing failure in our lives, how can we truly be prepared to embrace success? You need to have a firm understanding of both sides of this spectrum before you can go forward. For example, losing in a competitive game of anything doesn't sound so fun, especially when you don't play well at all and you lose very quickly. I know this feeling very well. However, your dreams of becoming good at playing said game shouldn't be crushed after just one big defeat. Losing is a learning process even if it's the harshest form of a learning process. Losing is just as much a part of life as winning.

In the case of people who are on the Autism Spectrum I know this may sound silly, but I believe in one sense failing at something strengthens us in particular. Since we have photographic memories and we know what not to do, we will have a better idea of getting away from that something that caused us to fail in the past, and we will get closer to doing the things that help us succeed. We process information in our minds, both positive and negative information, and we can discern between what is the right thing to do and what is the wrong thing to do. Even though you may fail at a certain task, that doesn't mean your life is over. You just get back up and try again.

We all have our limitations and because of our varying conditions on the Autism Spectrum we know what we can and can't tolerate. Sometimes after we experience enough failure at a certain task we could simply take a step back and say "You know what? This probably isn't for me. This probably isn't what I'm meant to be doing. Oh well! At least I tried!" Once we confirm that we should just move on and not dwell on these failures. Just having the knowledge of the fact that you tried something and it didn't work out goes a long way because if that wasn't meant to be your calling in life, then there's something else down the road that is your calling.

What's your calling in life? What are you mostly good at? Are you prepared for both success and failure? Are you willing to develop courage and maintain that courage? Are you willing to try? Don't be afraid to fail. Let's keep it this simple.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Autism and Multitasking

Sometimes when I multitask I feel like this.
Multitasking is very much a double-edged sword. There are good things about multitasking and then there are not so good things about it. There are pros and cons to this method. Some people are very good at multitasking while others are prone to making many mistakes when they attempt to multitask. It happens to all of us. We are either very sharp at multitasking or we will experience days when multitasking should be the last thoughts in the back of our minds.

How effective can people who are on the Autism Spectrum be when it comes to multitasking? It certainly depends on what your interests are, how in tune you are with your environment, and how committed you will be to getting tasks done. Everybody is different when it comes to handling certain workloads. You can either handle a whole lot of work or you can only handle a little bit at a time. None of us were created the same. We got at our own pace and we march to the beats of our own drums. That's what makes us unique.

Some of us, autistic or not, are simply meant to tackle the act of multitasking head on without hesitation. When it comes to me, I have always been a roller coaster with multitasking. I do have the willingness to sometimes (key word "sometimes") multitask only if the tasks in question are not super difficult to complete. If all the tasks that people want me to do are difficult and over my head, then I don't think I will be able to multitask. I don't say this to claim that I am lazy or anything, but it's just the truth. It really depends on what exactly you give me to work on.

Keep in mind that autistic people have comfort zones that they do tend to protect, and sometimes if those comfort zones are struck too hard or too many times, then problems might develop. I know from my experience with Asperger's Syndrome that I am not the kind of guy to get pushed so much. I don't prefer to get pushed too hard to do things that appear trivial and typical to me. I don't liked to be rushed neither. I have never been a guy who performs tasks at lightning fast speeds. I prefer to take at least some time working on tasks before I can properly complete them. I have to feel comfortable about the final products that I develop before I submit them. I see nothing wrong with this.

Always take notes... but don't overdo it.
It also depends on how many activities one can juggle at a single time. Some can juggle between 3 things at once, some can juggle 4, and some out there can even juggle more. When it comes to me, I prefer to keep current activities going at a pace of 3 things at once, but here's the catch. I don't normally juggle between those 3 things at the very same moment. I will focus on one thing for some time, then I will move to the next thing for some time, and then I finally move on to the next thing. Very limited breaks in between these activities. That's probably not how people view multitasking, but I find this to be a minimal form of multitasking.

If I ever get into the mode of wanting to do multiple in things in a small time frame, then I will most likely write up a list of the potential things that I will do for the day. There is a good chance that I won't be able to do every single thing that I put down on that list, but I always aim to do a chunk of those things. I feel a sense of accomplishment if I am able to complete at least some of the things that I put down on that list. I am definitely an advocate of taking notes just to remind myself of what's important for the day. The last I want to experience while in the heat of doing more than one thing would be to lose focus and start getting confused. I don't like it when I constantly forget things, so I find note-taking very helpful.

I suppose that we all have our own definitions as to what multitasking is. Maybe some of us have a 30 minute window in our heads and we believe that we can get 3 things done at once within those 30 minutes. Maybe some of us can get it all done within 20 minutes, or even 10 minutes. There really isn't a distinct time frame for us to pinpoint when it comes to multitasking. All I can suggest is that if you are going to take on multitasking projects, make sure that you commit to it all the way and not halfway. It can be real easy to get turned off from multitasking, but just stick with it if that's what you really want to do. I probably wouldn't be the guy to ask when it comes to multitasking questions, but that's just me.