I cry nearly every single time I watch an “It Gets Better” video from LGBT activism, and I hope that the neurodiversity movement can learn from the class, optimism, and kindness of that campaign.
We need it.
A while ago I spoke with a mom whose Aspie son killed himself. I cry as I write this, months after we spoke.
She’d asked me to share her thoughts, his, and mine. She wants to somehow prevent this outcome for others.
She said, about meeting me, “You have brought up a lot of emotions” and “You have the same tics, twitches, and body mannerisms [as my son]”.
She had never heard the name Asperger, historically or diagnostically, until her son was well into his adolescence.
She said her son “wouldn’t suffer fools” and longed for beautiful and engaging company. He wanted to love and be loved.
Her key idea was to promote understanding that he may be perceived as rude, that his method of processing situations could cause offense. The narratives about the importance of eye contact dumbfounded him.
I joined her in lamenting that there were not additional adults, perhaps a cool guitar teacher, to mentor him. They could have engaged in a positive activity, and it is through fulfilling relationships that growth and hope happen.
While I can practically taste a world where a kid like this has a more positive experience, that flavor did not reach him in time.
And he completed suicide.
I told his mom, “When I was his age, I wanted to change the world so that I could like the world more.”
She said her son would have said the same thing.
I closed our conversation with, “I am so glad to meet you and so sorry that I will never meet your son.”
I would’ve loved to meet her son.