Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Seeing another's path and finding my own

I'm taking a class called Handicapped Individuals in Society  (OT 355) as part of preparing to apply to CSU's Occupational Therapy  program. Sometimes it makes me remember or think about how I've dealt with my disabilities in the past and how I'm doing now. 

According to the reading I read yesterday, people who are in the bargaining mindset (from Kubler-Ross's grief process model) see a glimmer of hope and seek out how their disability can be fixed. 

I realized that was partially to account for my fixation on Dr. Temple Grandin. Soon after my diagnosis of PPD-NOS, I was searching for a future. I was wondering, "Now what?" Conveniently enough, someone had lived life with an autism spectrum disorder and she was just a bus-ride to campus away. 

I became fixated on her life because I needed a path to walk down. My whole sense of who I was and my future was rearranged, and I needed somewhere to go. 

I thought, "If my life could look like hers, I will be ok." "If I do what she does, then I think all this will be worth it." That was why it was the bargaining phase of my thinking. That clamoring to find something to not necessarily fix, but finding something good to balance out the really intense bad feelings of, "Oh my goodness, someone threw a sledgehammer at my development / identity / future plans!!!!!!!!!"

Well,  EXACTLY A YEAR AGO, I actually got to see Dr. Grandin at a lecture!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Yes, she gave that exact lecture, though this picture wasn't taken at Colorado State University. It was pulled from Google Images. Anyhoo... I saw her at the University Center for the Arts at Griffin Concert Hall with one of my best friends Kristina.... IT WAS REALLY AWESOME AND I TOTALLY EEKED AFTERWARD!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Erm - sorry, I got distracted :) So after the lecture, I realized that I can't follow exactly in her footsteps a) because livestock is not my thing (I'd so get trampled, and cows and horses smell funny) and b) more importantly, our ASD affects us in different ways. Dr. Grandin is totally cool with giving a lecture in front of millions of people since that's apparently what she spends half her life doing. She's less comfortable just hanging out talking with people even though she does it during book signings. I don't know how much she'd like working at the group home where I work. I like it :) 

So I realized this: Our paths initially cross wherein we both are on the autism spectrum, and we are both affiliated with CSU, but we're very different. Part of moving into an acceptance frame of mind was when I realized that I could look at her path to see how God used one person's disability and then trust Him for how He would use mine. One way where Dr. Grandin and I are the same, is that I've had the opportunity to help my clients on the spectrum and empathize with them because I've felt similar frustrations as they have.  Where my path will go, I don't know. It might cross Dr. Grandin's path again, or it may go a completely different way, and that's fine :)