This is a comment that I made yesterday on Facebook, in response to comments I saw posted by someone with Asperger's Syndrome. She was frustrated because she just graduated from law school and doesn't have a job, and felt that the world had screwed her over.
Her comments belied a bitterness towards the world because of abuse she's suffered over the years and a general resentment towards having autism. She was basically feeling sorry for herself and saying that no one would try to treat her this way if she didn't have autism, and she was angry that no one "had the guts" to stand up for her. So I felt a very great need to respond to all of this, and this is what I wrote:
"Sometimes, when no one else will stand up for us, we have to have the guts to stand up for ourselves. Do you think there are any of us who HAVEN'T had the 'system' fail us? We are living and trying to be successful in a world that isn't designed for us, and yes, it sucks. But complaining and wallowing in self-pity accomplishes nothing except proving them right--that we are "damaged," "useless," "pathetic"...any of the names that I myself have been called and I'm sure others have been, too.
I know it's hard, but you have to stop listening to their voices, the voices that condemn you to failure, and listen to YOUR voice--the voice that says "I graduated from law school. I kick ass!" I mean, that's a HUGE accomplishment, and it says so much about you that you fought against those long odds and persevered and got that damn degree, despite what anyone said.
People told my parents I'd never go to a regular high school, let alone college, and that I'd work in a sheltered environment. This year, I'm about to graduate grad school with my Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. I'm a writer, a public speaker, an activist and advocate for all people on the autism spectrum. I have had the fortune to have my voice heard, and so I especially try to represent the people whose voices haven't been heard. I know your frustration and your pain so well because they were once my own, too.
It would be very easy to use my diagnosis as a crutch--when I was younger, I used to say, "It's not my fault...I have Asperger's Syndrome." But blaming everything on the disorder is just as bad as not wanting it to exist. It's not all of who you are, but it's a part--a part that can either be negative or positive. And people that would abuse or try to take advantage of you don't do so because you have autism--it's because they perceive that you are vulnerable and not someone who would stand up for yourself. But if you do, if you have confidence and believe in yourself, they won't be able to push you around.
For me, having Asperger's Syndrome was once all negative, but rather than being crushed under the weight of it, I've used it to try and make a difference in the world. Look at it as an asset--a perspective that you have that NO ONE else does. With that and your law degree, I know you can change the world, too, and help to ensure that no one ever goes through what folks like you and I have gone through, ever again."