We've been meeting monthly with a small group of nonverbal young adults who type to communicate. Attendance has been excellent, structure is minimal, and we have been slowly moving forward as we all become acquainted and a little more relaxed in a social setting.
And then I boldly invited two additional young people (high school age, also nonverbal typers), without taking the time or making the effort to run this idea past our original group of three typers plus various support people. As luck would have it, everyone showed up. Our rather small meeting room suddenly became quite crowded and warm - not an easy situation for people on the autism spectrum and not an easy situation for their support people either. What was I thinking?!?
First of all, my apologies to those directly involved. This is NOT my usual style at all, and I admit I surprised even myself.
And then to all who read this, here's what happened. For the most part, our original participants had one of their best days yet. They typed that they were happy to have new friends, they remained seated longer than usual, did more typing, and even seemed to be smiling more. One of the two new typers joined in readily, while the other had more difficulty. Both were obviously excited and happy about being there, but entering the room and staying there was not easy for the second young person (let's call him Nate).
Jump ahead an hour or two. Once I was back home, I logged onto my computer and did one of my daily tasks along with reading email, checking Facebook, and playing my favorite games. I read the following message on Daily OM (Check it out at: http://dailyom.com/ )
". . . There is nothing wrong with being afraid as long as we do not let it stop us from doing the things that excite us. Most of us assume that brave people are fearless, but the truth is that they are simply more comfortable with fear because they face it on a regular basis. The more we do this, the more we feel excitement in the face of challenges rather than anxiety. The more we cultivate our ability to move forward instead of backing off, the more we trust ourselves to be able to handle the new opportunity . . . . When we feel our fear, we can remind ourselves that maybe we are actually just excited. We can assure ourselves that this opportunity has come our way because we are meant to take it."
To Nate (and his mom): You looked fearful at times and yet we KNOW you were excited. I hope it helps to know that everyone else in that room has dealt with similar fear and anxiety. I myself have operated from a fear of failure most of my life, and daring to push all of us forward as I did must have been one of those opportunities that came my way because I was meant to take it. The young people who were seated around the table, appearing to be so comfortable and at ease --- every single one of them --- all started out where you were, frozen by fear and unable to participate. Look how far they have come. You will be there too. We are all anxious to hear what you have to say.
There's more from Daily Om that is relevant here:
"Framing things just a little differently can dramatically shift our mental state from one of resistance (AHA -see my previous blog posts!) to one of openness. . . . As we do this, we will feel our energy shift from fear, which paralyzes, to excitement, which empowers us to direct all that energy in the service of moving forward, growing, and learning,"
So let's all shift from fear to excitement, let's enjoy the emotional ride as we move forward, and let's appreciate and celebrate the amazing people we are getting to know in the process.
Again, my humble apologies for throwing things out of whack.