There are dozens of self help gurus, books and videos telling the world to do what we love.
Maybe this is my autistic thing, but I’m puzzled why someone might need someone to tell them that.
However, the irony is that for AS youth the messaging is somewhat contradictory.
Their joy for something is reduced to an “obsession” or “special interest”.
It’s societal gaslighting.
I remember my interest in fascist regimes (prompted by watching The Sound of Music over and over again) – was looked upon as a very strange obsession. Yet knowing everything I could gave my life meaning – and JOY!
My love of language (and music) that counters hate eventually led to work in project management and political social justice fields as an anthropologist.
Is it because we are classed as different that we don’t “deserve” to have that joy fostered into skills? Is this just reserved for neurotypical adults – in the books consumed in million dollar self help industries encourage the rest of the world to do?
I was lucky to have a parent who encouraged me to follow my interests instead of what everyone else wanted for me.
Yet, because AS young people often show signs of knowing what we love so early, this seems to be detracted from by some (not all) educators and parents. Sometimes it’s because they think we don’t have room for the rest of the curriculum. Maybe the child is more important than rigid adherence to curriculum?
And yes, I do understand the importance of curriculums.
Are we meant to just go down the path of lots of general knowledge and unhappiness and not knowing our joy because then we’ll be “normal”? I reject this type of normal.
Then there is footage of youth being restrained and dragged down hallways for not conforming. This madness is not the fault of the young person with AS, but of a system trying to turn people into consumers of self help products.
If “normal” means I am meant to be searching for meaning in books written by people who’ve done what I’ve always done (found joy in focussed interests) – then isn’t that a wait of my resources and energy?
Why is there then an apparent double standard when it comes to AS young people? To anyone really?
Because I’ve looked at the books, videos and talks and they all say the same thing:
Find what gives you joy and do it. Make a career out of that joy or something related to it.
Not exactly rocket science. Often AS young people are blessed with what the self help books are selling at an early age.
Whilst I doubt that this is possible for everyone, I’m sure that aspiring to it, is not a terrible thing.
Maybe, just maybe, if we seriously created industries of joyful meaning from birth onwards – not only for marginalised AS children and people – but for everyone, the world would be a much happier, more peaceful world.
*I have used identity first language in the majority as is my right as an autistic woman. I understand that some carers, experts and parents prefer to use person first language and that is their choice. However take away my autistic identity and I am not me – and I’m proud of who I am. So thus I prefer identity first language.