A plea for people with disabilities and staff…

Have you ever found yourself playing a role you never thought you’d need to play?

Well, to coin the words of Adrian Monk, when you’re someone with high-functioning autism, such a diagnosis is a “blessing…or a curse.”

Due to playing the role, I was expected to quell any arguments or to act as a go-between in conflicts with my peers, I always felt an obligation to set the example, since people would respect me. With that said, though, it was very hard in my position to let my guard down to others and to be myself with peers.  Even at my current home, I’m always asked for advice when it comes to dating, technology and other things.

And, that’s my story..

I share this story to show why I support not only the staff I work with, but all DSPs in general. Trying to feel like you’ve made a difference daily must feel exhausting, if my experience was any indication. The key is that we all strive to do better and as a wonderful friend has told me, when you do better, you are better.

That gets to another point I need to address: to be better people, we need to do better, we need more information literacy in general, with online applications for jobs being the norm, we need more opportunities to show what we can do. We need accommodations in order to do the job we want to the best of our abilities. By “we”, I’m mentioning both DSP’s and individuals with disabilities, we all need a better life to help us all….

Shine On!!

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Packed Out Poetry: Or maybe I should say Stacked Out Poetry

This edition of Packed Out (or maybe Stacked Up) Poetry is for a great friend, the wonderfully wacky but Au-somely Atypical Jesse Saperstein.

I first met him at a Barnes and Noble as he was signing his first book, Atypical: Life with Aspergers in 20 and 1/3 Chapters in mid 2010. At first glance, he was well spoken, quirky and very much a dreamer in every positive sense. It’s those qualities that drew me to him as a friend.

As I was reading his books (his second one came out years later) I realized how alike we both are (and not just because both of us are Spectrumites.) We both have been through more than our shares of challenges and setbacks (monetary and social) but we both have bounced back, stronger than ever, helped by our respective friends and families. He’s already achieved a dream that’s the same as mine: being a published author.

This also translated into our Annual Vacations to Wildwood Crest with another friend or two. One place of interest was an old school arcade museum where classic arcade games were plentiful. One of his quirks, stacking plates so that the servers we had at various restaurants, is the basis for my recent poem, Stack, so without further ado:

Stack

By Brian Liston

-for his best friend, Jesse-

Stack,

Life; work

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

All require flexibility and a touch of

Balance.

If he reads this, (and I’m sure he will), I just wanted to thank him for his friendship towards me and being a role model for me and other Spectrumites like us, for helping us all…

Shine On!!

Packed Out Poetry: A Sensitive Post for Most..

Well, it’s that time of year for Spectrumites, one where some feel indifferent, while others feel as if they’re being singled out moreso than any time of the year. It’s February and that means that the hearts, the chocolates and the signs of Valentine’s Day come out in full force.

Let’s face facts, love and relationships are so tough, so much so that they seem impossible for all people, let alone us Spectrumites, who seem to fail when it comes to relationships, it can be anything: social cues, societal pressures, pushing boundaries to extremes just to name a few. I’ve heard my share of stories where this turned out to be the case, and in one case, it turned tragic, with the person ending his own life.

Such is the case when understanding, compassion and communication isn’t offered to people who need them, just a shoulder to cry on, to seek advice, maybe even therapy to help, anything that they need to help them get through any crises or complications they may have when it comes to relationships, myself included, as mentioned in the fellow WordPress.com blogger: Seeing Double, Understanding Autism(https://seeingdoubleautismawareness.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/ten-things-i-wish-everyone-knew-about-autism-and-romantic-relationships/) which sums it up all nicely:

10) We can’t always guess how you’re feeling.

This can be a real problem with both friendships and romantic relationships. I vividly remember one occasion when I had said something to upset a friend, and he didn’t tell me. For several months he just carried on as normal, expecting me to realise I had upset him through subtle indications in his body language and vocal tone. Of course, I had no idea what was going on. Autistic people just don’t have the skills necessary to interpret how you’re feeling. To us, none verbal communication is like a foreign language of which we only know a few words. At times, you will have to be very explicit when explaining how you’re feeling to an autistic person. That doesn’t mean we don’t care. We’re just bad at interpreting none verbal communication.

But also remember that we all make strides in our own time, despite what society says, what with instant gratification being the norm, as the article highlights:

1) Autistic people are often late bloomers when it comes to relationships.

Nick Dubin (author of Asperger’s and Anxiety and other self-help books) did not start dating until he was twenty five. In Asperger’s and Anxiety Dubin mentions another autistic man who didn’t date until his forties. That man is now married with two children. It can take autistic people a long time to develop the confidence and social skills we need to maintain meaningful relationships. But that does not mean meaningful relationships are impossible. Furthermore, entering the game late isn’t necessarily a disadvantage, as the above example should indicate.

Let me stress that autism and love is hard, but as a friend and his girlfriend has taught me by his example, that it’s not impossible..we just need time and communication to make it work, and in that vein, I offer my poem “Heart” as my gift to you all…

Heart

By Brian Liston

A heart

flies,

soars

above;

beyond

what we

can even

dream of,

even as

it gets

hurt;

crushed

along

life’s

dance.

It

always

feels

comforting,

welcoming

to know

that

everyone

always

has a

home

to return,

recharge

to feel

welcome

and walk

our

paths

all to

a brighter,

happier

future.

Until next time, be warm, be compassionate and help others….

Shine On!!

What makes one a Champion..

There’s one thing that brings us together but also divides us, both as individuals and as a society. One event where one team wins at the expense of the other, one where cities are united in solidarity and are celebrating or mourning the result: The Super Bowl.

In my group home, I’m always happy to celebrate no matter which team is in the game, but I always find myself reminding my friends that a lot can happen in one play that can change the entire game. The reason I say that is not meant as lip service to any team: I say that because its words I’ve seen to be true many times before. A friend has told me that I know how to improvise and I’m flattered that my friend says that; such is not to say that it was easy for me to learn at first.

As a Spectrumite, learning to change wasn’t easy to do, but I learned empathy quickly, I was able to see the bigger picture more because I didn’t want to do anything that I’d regret, all because my parents asked me how I’d feel if what I did to someone happened to me? It was something I didn’t think of before then, but as I thought about it, it made sense for me to think about others..

But I digress..

I’d like to ask my readers this question, what do you think makes a champion?

The way I see it, a champion knows how to make changes on the fly, being flexible, a champion settles on his strategy but can also is flexible enough to change it when the needs change. A champion leads a team by their example, they walk the walk and doesn’t lead by just talking about it. They actuate and never dictate and never confuses the two. One should ask oneself which kind of leader that they wish to be?

Be the leader, of your life or of one group, you want to be; inspiring those around you to try to make themselves and you all…

Shine On!!