Over the course of this roller coaster ride of a life there have been many people who have entered my life with the sole purpose of helping me and getting to where I am to day. While many have left their mark in their own unique ways, there are a few of them that have had a bigger impact than they intended to. Coincidentally these five people are all women not that I’m complaining, it’s just an interesting coincidence. If there was a League of Extraordinary women, these ladies would be it and with out further adieu I present to you these lovely women in no particular order.
During my time in preschool I was in two classes. The first class I was in was a bit awkward. I never felt much of a connection with the teachers in my first class and they seemed kind of impatient. They weren’t awful people but I just never felt a positive vibe from that class and that group of teachers. The following year I was moved to another class where I would spend the remainder of my preschool years. In that class I had a lovely energetic teacher/caseworker (I’m not entirely sure of the title but that doesn’t matter) who seemed different from the rest. Sure I pushed her buttons one too many times, I think I remember pulling her hair one time when I was mad but there was something different. She tried harder than a lot of other people at the time to connect with me and that meant a lot in those early confusing years. I felt like I made the most progress with her. Believe it or not I was a really picky eater when I was younger, I know shocking considering people know me today as that guy who is a big eater and posts delicious food porn on his Facebook and Instagram but yeah I barely ate anything. She introduced me to what seemed like a lot of foreign foods back then (Some of us Autistics won’t go near any food that’s looks funny or overly complex, even something as simple as jelly or a sauce scares the shit out of us). From various fruits and even jelly, I managed to expand my palate a short time. One time she forced me to eat a banana and that didn’t end well. She the apologized about forcing me to eat the banana which also meant a lot back then because for once someone other than my mother had compassion. Yeah I know what you’re thinking people, how can an Autistic understand such complex emotions? Truth is I didn’t but my heart always knew. In a world where things seemed chaotic with all the doctors visits and such her presence held my sanity together in ways no one could have ever fathomed. She was the product of some of my fondest childhood memories. From swimming trips to seeing The Lion King and Toy Story, my childhood was made all the more awesome by her presence. It was sad when I had to leave preschool and move to the next frontier that was Kindergarten. She did an amazing job making that transition easier. From hyping up the new place in a way that got me excited to being there on that first day and a few days afterwards to make the new place feel somewhat like home, she had made what could have been a tricky transition that much easier. I don’t think I can ever thank her enough for all that she has done for me. My childhood just wouldn’t be the same without her.
2. Ms. White
Back in middle school when I absolutely hated life I could never understand why the hell she was all always in a cheerful mood. Everyday she had a smile on her face like life was always wonderful and at a time when I hated everything that smile drove me nuts back then. There were a million things I hated about myself back then, I couldn’t talk to girls to save my life, I was socially awkward and was severely lacking on the pragmatics which usually resulted in me finding new ways to turn people against me. I was angry at the world and I was angry at myself and yet she always smiled. It was this smile however that would teach me over the years that we ultimately control our outlook on life. It was through her that I learned to approach the biggest of problems in life with a smile. I’m pretty sure she had her share of problems back in those days but she never brought those problems with her. She always kept a smile on her face and that made things feel like they’d get better. From helping me with homework to listening to all of my problems and walking me through some difficult and confusing times. Having someone to vent to would prove to be vital in later years of high school when I learned to connect my social awkwardness and my Autism diagnosis and started hating what I saw in the mirror. She believed in my at at time I didn’t believe in myself and that meant a great deal because it gave me a reason to keep going. I thank her for being a shoulder to lean on through some tough coming of age realizations about myself and for always staying upbeat when when the rest of the world didn’t. It’s because of you that I’ve learnt to smile even in the shittiest moments of life.
3. Ms Diefendorf
I didn’t know exactly what to expect when you were introduced to me as I was starting my Freshman year of high school. You were very energetic and always seemed like a go-getter. You were well, different and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I was an extremely disorganized person and never knew how to efficiently plan long term projects or outline papers or even advocate for myself and ask for help when something was difficult. I simply rolled with the punches and never even tried to improve myself because at that point I just accepted that I would be nothing more and a failure that would forever remain in his brother’s shadow academically. You however saw more in me than I ever saw in myself and greatly improved my organizational skills and planning. You taught me how to plan and outline papers and various study skills that would help me on tests in the longrun. All skills learned from you made high school that much easier and college was pretty much a cake walk thanks to skills I will use for the rest of my life. Thank you for teaching me that I was capable of greater things and thank you for giving me tools that make life that much easier. Everyone can benefit greatly from the organization skills you have taught me and many others.
I surprisingly don’t have a pic with you and I in it though then again we’ve never had the chance to take a picture together. You’re my second Mass Rehab counselor and obviously the better of the two. The first one I had didn’t stay very long to due to personal issues but truthfully I didn’t connect with her to begin with. You however were different, you helped me navigate the world of benefits and managing various aspects of my financial aid package and test accommodations that would travel with me to college. You supported my decision to choose a private college which Mass Rehab couldn’t fund 100%, something that not many people were a fan of back then but over the years you’d help me seek out various grants and even connected me with a driving school that catered to people with intellectual and physical disabilities. I thank you for enduring the latter part of this crazy ride with me and helping out with the job search despite my horrible luck.
5. My Mother
And of course we save the best for last, my mother. She’s one of the most resourceful people I will ever know. With a not so firm grasp on the English language she navigated a world she probably didn’t even know existed prior to me being diagnosed. Through tough times she would be my rock and push me to be the person I am today. She taught me to chase my dreams no matter what road blocks stood in the way. She fought the school system to ensure I got nothing less than the education I deserved, an education that would challenge me with all the right supports in place to address my struggles. She’d sacrifice sleep just to make sure I understood my homework and endured many I.E.P meetings fighting to make sure I got the right accommodations. Without her I don’t know where I’d be. I can’t thank her enough for enduring the crazy ride with me. She believed in my when I didn’t believe in myself and pushed me to keep going even when I wanted to give up on myself and even life. Thank you for fighting for me and teaching me to fight for myself. The League of Extraordinary women started with this Extraordinary woman who sought the help of other extra ordinary people in order to make sure I had a chance a success. Stay class people and remember, everyone has a team of extraordinary people around them even if they don’t realize it yet.