If it were not for my support network throughout the years it is highly likely that I would have seriously lost the plot.
I thank God for my incredible parents who were very patient with me as a child, and were smart enough to seek out both professional and spiritual help when required. My mother has said a number of times that she prayed more after I was born. I’m sure God has used me to grow my parents spiritually. I was a test many times over.
I grew up in church so that was a great community for me. I made a number of good friends in church. I felt comfortable being myself. I was accepted, my creative side was acknowledged and encouraged. I was free to be me. My social skills developed most in church. It was a safe environment to make mistakes. My confidence grew in church. In fact after a while when new members found out I was on the spectrum they were surprised.
This example of community has struck a chord with me in the past but there are many examples of what makes a community. There are neighborhoods, clubs, sports teams etc. If you feel like you don’t have a strong supportive community, don’t fret. Keep looking, keep connected to someone, a friend or relative. I touched on this a little in my Friendships video.
I understand what it feels like to be out of the loop and I know us Aspies just want to be friendly and connect, be understood just like the rest of the human race. Since moving out of home, getting married etc I’ve had to start from scratch with establishing community. Of course I have my hubby and family are just a phone call away but a local community is very important. I realised just how much I took my community for granted when I left it. I had forgotten how difficult it can be to establish a strong support network outside of family. In fact I had never really needed to start from scratch myself before and take responsibility for finding and maintaining friendships. It is only in the last four years that I have had to grow up and find community for myself. I didn’t have my family and family friends as a crutch anymore. Of course I would still keep in touch (hooray for facebook!) but I had to figure things out on my own.
In fact I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have facebook as a way of having a community. I think social networking often gets a bad wrap but I think it has some great merits. It becomes an issue if it is the only way I socialise. I have been guilty of this a little in the last couple of years. Getting out of the house to connect with people in real life was all a bit much sometimes. Since moving to Sydney there have been a number of people I had become friends with who later moved away so my facebook friends list would grow but my local hang outs with friends would continued to decrease. I’m going through this at the moment. I know a lot of people in my area, but to be honest I wouldn’t consider them true friends. In time things will change. It just takes time.
Be good, get out of the house.