How a man on the Spectrum learns to live

The Gift of Time

Every day is a gift.

Every day is a gift.

With many holidays approaching, I’m just like a lot of people wondering about what gifts they’re going to purchase for whom. Truthfully, I have a pretty short list of people I’m closest to, but I love feeling like it’s the quality of the relationships rather than quantity. Like many people, I’ve puzzled over what to purchase as gifts. However, thanks to my growing self-awareness and my advances in intuition and empathy, I’ve learned how to give something valuable to the people on my list. What I’ve learned to give them…is time. What do I mean? Well, I mean quality time and an opportunity to connect.

There’s no denying that today, we live in an age of distraction. Electronic devices, jobs, family, and friends all compete for our attention and drive so many of us to nervous insanity; this is nothing new to me. I believe that when I was very young, my heightened sensory perception, a common side-effect of Autism, led me to being more prone to distraction and subsequent frustration afterwards.

I could see the writing on the wall, and I knew something had to be done. I knew I was different before I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at fifteen, and I wanted to explain myself, but I couldn’t. After my diagnosis, I chose not to believe that I was a “typical” case in any way. I was determined to overcome the challenges and find a way to use my gifts to embrace who I am at heart.

It hasn’t been easy or fast in coming. I had to learn a lot about patience and understanding before I gained the confidence to be present and happy with myself. Personally, I think multitasking is overrated and I couldn’t do it to save my life! By trusting the process, I learned that I was ahead of the curve when I gained a new coping skill for daily life and was better prepared when new technology and jobs made the world both more connected and more distracted. I trust such things as blogs and social media, but my life is not defined by them. For me, human connection is too precious to take for granted; I welcome all opportunities to test my ever-evolving social skills.

An added bonus I gained was an ability to be observant of people’s needs and desires and to take action with them when possible. This enabled me to buy gifts that were sincere and from my heart. I enjoy giving people a chance to reconnect and just be present with one another. Whatever the situation and relationship is, in my heart, I find a way to make it work. What matters most is that I made a difference in people’s lives and my greatest satisfaction is their gratitude and appreciation.

I’ve come a long way since my diagnosis. It’s not common for people on the Autism Spectrum to relate to “neuro-typicals” on a deep level. I have been blessed to be able to find a way to be socially competent while staying true to myself at the same time. To give something to a friend or family member that is from the heart is like being the vessel for a small blessing from God to reach the hands of someone in need. I’m blessed and grateful to give such precious gifts to those I love. For me, this is what the holiday spirit is all about.

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