Interlude, Oh Holy Ned!

I am still trying to integrate last week. Last week was a good one, it was especially good. That is because as I write this entry, last week was the week of the Arizona TASH Conference. I was there.
TASH is a strange acronym inasmuch as the letters of TASH no longer stand for anything. This is because the mission of the organization has grown since its inception. While the letters of TASH do not stand for anything, the organization certainly does.
TASH stands for inclusion of disabled persons. Inclusion into school. Inclusion into jobs. Inclusion into life in all of its aspects. TASH is not specific; it is for all people with all disabilities. It is not for inclusion into any specific area of society, but for inclusion everywhere all the time. It is not for members within any specific slice of society: it is not for teachers nor parents nor anyone else in specific: it is for all.
TASH is by far my favourite organization. Its mission, its motto: ”Nothing about us without us.”, its people. TASH is crammed full of people who actually care, from the heart. It is full of people doing the hard work of changing the is full of people of great optimism. It is a family, and it feels like a family, a far better family of far better people than the abusive blood family that I come from. Any time that I can get together with TASH people is a time of wonder and joy. I feel so good to know these people. I am privileged and honoured and warmed.
This stands in sharp contrast to my life prior to finding myself and then being found by the marvelous people now all around me. I have not lived, but rather I have existed. My existence was a rough affair and one of my owning a desolate soul. I have had a desolate soul because I have had nothing to give. I have gone to work. I have paid my bills. But the workday has left me so fatigued by having to deal with the day’s pains of social interaction that I have spent evenings not accomplishing a thing but rather I have spent that time off work hibernating and recovering from the day. My work never provided enough money to contribute to anything; I have barely paid my bills. I have existed now for decades with few personal thrills and funtime, and even fewer warm moments of knowing that I have been of any sort of assistance to anyone else. I have been of slight, if any, value. I have had within me a terrible desolation.
I no longer feel this interior bleakness. I found myself to be autistic. I found people. Then those people found me and handed me purpose. When these people gave me their friendship and a purpose for my being, they handed me life itself, gilded and on a silver platter. They did not change my life, they gave me my life.
When I present I am, of course, handling my social and sensory issues. My autism never vanishes, and I must work within it. It is true that I leave a talk quite fatigued. However, I also leave that talk on such a high. That is because in speaking I am making some small but real change in the lives of people who really and deeply need these changes. I know that people will have better lives than the one that I have had. I know that I am a part of the great effort to improve the lives of people still marginalized in society. I know by personal experience the nature of life. Both of desolation and of friends and love and purpose. I want the best for everyone and am now at work upon this task and for this goal. In TASH I am surrounded by people who have care beyond their own skins, and I am becoming one of them!
At the Arizona TASH Conference I saw friends and make new ones. I presented twice to wonderful audiences. We screened our documentary on adult autism, ”Vectors of Autism”. Then, Thursday, sandwiched between my two presentations, we had lunch.
John, the director of the film made it clear that Susan, who is producer of both the film and my life, wanted me to be in the main room. Rule Number Six: Never doubt Susan. I entered the room. Yay! Awards! I love to be there to see who is being feted with an award and to applaud them. These are the people of TASH after all, and each is involved in the wonderful work of world changing. I was so happy. I saw that the June Downing Award was granted to a woman whom I had met just a few minutes before. I was so happy that I applauded until my wrists hurt.
Then Susan began to speak of this year’s recipient of the Arizona TASH Legacy Award. Whomever receives this has my utmost respect. She calls Nancy up to the lectern. Nancy is a friend of mine and deeply involved in the film and my life. She began to speak. And then I became so nervous. She was using phrases that I had heard before. And then, as my anxiety grew ever greater, she used a clear and unambiguous phrase, she said my name!
I am recipient of the 2012 Arizona TASH Legacy Award! And I am so trying to integrate this. And I promise to strive to earn it through my work! To everyone, let’s get everyone included to whatever extent that INDIVIDUAL wants to be included. To TASH, thank you for including me into your purpose, I am so happy to be here, part of the family! And to TASH also this, thank you for this award, it is the greatest honour of my life!

Legacy Award


7 Responses to Interlude, Oh Holy Ned!

  1. Leah Kelley says:

    I love this post Laura!!
    Thank you for all that you are doing to make the world a more inclusive and understanding place!

    You are truly a wonderful person… and children like my son, H – are already benefiting from your legacy!

  2. @OrbitingPlanetD says:

    Laura, Hearty Congratulations on your well-deserved award! Thank you for all that you do!!

  3. Laura says:

    Thank you kindly! Tellya what: my plan is to continue working with TASH upon our noble goals until I drop over. I cannot find any more words to summon!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Wow, what a touching blog, Laura, and you certainly are deserving of the TASH Legacy Award! Congratulations again!

    • Laura says:

      Hey! Look who is here! Good to see you! And seriously, so many thanks, and I am so happy to be part of aa group with wonderful people like you!

  5. Cheryl says:

    If you’re ever in doubt about the positive impact that you have on others, turn your eyes and heart to look at YOUR Arizona TASH Legacy Award and your doubts will fly away.

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