I’m an adult with sensory sensitivities and diagnoses of both Aspergers and selective mutism. I remember what it was like to be a child with those challenges. At the time, I thought that because I was so different from everyone else that I must have be an alien dropped here and expected to know the culture! There are times “I” almost disappeared completely but if I could write a note to “The Child Self” I was then, it would go like this:
Dear Child Self, you will experience overwhelming fears, tragic losses, indignities and confusion. The others your age seem to know what to do, what to say and how to bond with others. Often you can’t get the words out because they stick in your throat like the biggest lump ever. You cringe when people say “She’s so shy,” because you know in every fiber of your being that you are not shy. The word ‘shy’ minimizes something more serious. What you can’t know is that your senses are on high. Your very own brain works differently. If you could see it, you’d see your brain may look like other brains but the way it takes in information, makes sense of the information and manages output is vastly different.
You have serious, all-out desperate meltdowns. Sometimes you feel as if you can’t even communicate to your own parents. You even attach notes to clothespins and throw them into the living room for your parents to read. They will not read your thoughts. They will simply yell, “Stop throwing things!” So you must know this: Many times your thoughts, feelings, and ideas go unexpressed. But they are valid! Guess what, Child Self? You aren’t alone. All this time that you struggle, take my word for it- there are others who are just like you! One day you will know true peers who understand. You will find a belonging with them such as you have never known. This I promise.
Keep journaling! One day people will read what you have to say. Keep creating! You have the ability to lose yourself for hours; ‘just’ drawing. One day you will show your paintings in galleries and you will sell them! All human beings have ways to de-stress and for you that is Art, and always will be. Write what you cannot say aloud, and save those journals. Draw what goes unexpressed. And be easy on your young self when you are overwhelmed and lose control. So much of what happens is a learning experience even though it is often painful. Above all, trust me, ‘Your Future Self’ when I say:
“Your Art will sustain you. It will always be your safe footbridge over turbulent waters.
If you cannot express yourself through your voice, do so on the written page. The things you think about really are important.
You may not believe me but you are stronger than you think. You try so hard to do what others seem to take for granted. The good news is, this is called perseverance and bravery. It makes you a resilient person, just like that silly toy you have: the blow-up wobbly clown that keeps getting back up every time you push or punch it.
Take pleasure in being in your own company because one day others will. I promise. So draw! Make Christmas ornaments from cinnamon sticks, glue and sparklies! Spread peanut butter on pine cones and enjoy watching the squirrels come for them. Write! These types of expressions will carry you all your life.
Being you, unique you, fully and wholly, is all you’ve ever had to be. It’s enough because you matter.
P.S. I recently discovered that this note was translated in Chinese on a blog site by someone named “temnine.” I’m flattered by this and also awestruck at the translation. It’s a bit choppy and reads a bit awkwardly. It’s particularly interesting that the word Aspergers is translated as “Ace Borger.” Interesting…
Translated into Chinese, here at this link: http://article.yeeyan.org/view/260451/409330