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Excerpt for Preparing for Your Future with Autism by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Preparing for Your Future with Autism

Travis Breeding

Published by Travis Breeding at Smashwords

Copyright 2018 Travis Breeding

All Rights Reserved



Contents


Chapter One: A Social Celebration: Celebrating Autism

Chapter Two: The Power of Your Beliefs

Chapter Three: Autism Is My Super-Power

Chapter Four: Emotional Stalking and Talking

Chapter Five: Autism: How to Challenge Your Beliefs and Fixations

Chapter Six: Autism: An Introduction to Facebook Rules

Chapter Seven: Self-Disclosing Asperger Syndrome

Chapter Eight: My Aspie Special Interest Is My Best Friend

Chapter Nine: Autism: Fixations, Obsessions, and Special Interests

Chapter Ten: Autism: Sensory Overloaded By Emotions

Chapter Eleven: Autism: Being Mindful

Chapter Twelve: Autism: Instant and Delayed Gratification

Chapter Thirteen: Autism: Context of Reinforcement

Chapter Fourteen: An Aspie’s Psychosis

Chapter Fifteen: Beating the Aspie Blues

Chapter Sixteen: A Super Anxious Aspie

Chapter Seventeen: How to Measure Quality of Life for Autistic People

Chapter Eighteen: I Want to Be and Love My Autistic Self

About the Author



Chapter One A Social Celebration: Celebrating Autism



Autism makes me think of so many different things. It results in so many different feelings and emotions. Yet over a life time there have been many different feelings and emotions that I have felt in relationship to my autism diagnosis. I was not always happy. I was not always where I am today.



Today, I seriously feel like one of the luckiest people on the planet. I feel like I have survived a lot and been through so much. I feel grateful for the life I have been blessed with. I think I am going to live an amazing life and have so much to look forward to.



Where I was even a year ago in comparison to today was a pretty dark place. I won’t spend too much time dwelling on what that dark place was all about because this book is all about a social celebration and a celebration of autism spectrum disorder.


This book is a celebration of all the amazing things that people with autism can do and this book is a celebration of what I am and what I can do with my life. This book is a celebration of all of the gifts and blessings I have been given in life because of having autism spectrum disorder. It is amazing to me how much your life can change when you simply begin to embrace life, embrace autism, and embrace the many positive things in life that there are. Many of which come directly from having autism.



I was once obsessed with learning social skills. I really wanted to become the best at socializing and thought I needed social skills coaches in order to do that. I thought that the physical intervention of social skills coaching was the only way to go in which to get help for my autism.


This belief had me stuck in a crippling place because no one else thought the same way I did about social skills coaching and especially the insurance companies or the funding sources for the services in which I felt I needed.


Because of this I spent a great many years feeling trapped and doomed for death because of my autism and the fact that I would be unable to receive social skills coaching. I thought life was over and my thoughts, beliefs, feelings, emotions, and attitude all reflected that of a person who was done living and thought life was over.


There were even the numerous attempts at suicide because I had felt I had enough suffering and wanted to get out of life. The truth is we all go through trials and tribulations in life that cause us emotional pain. But what I have learned in recent months has changed the way I view life, the way I view autism, and the way I believe about things in life.



I was never a big fan of counseling in the past because it didn’t address social skills issues and I didn’t feel like it was helping me. It was hard for me to understand how just going in and talking to someone about my social struggles was going to make those social struggles go away but the truth is you can learn a lot about your brain and the way your mind works from counseling.



Cognitive behavior therapy is a very effective treatment for people suffering from depression or other mental illnesses and it is also quite effective in the treatment of autism. But in order for it to be effective with autism a person with autism must really buy into it and believe in the power of CBT to change his or her life.


CBT is not easy. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It took me a long time to buy into the program of CBT because I didn’t understand how it was actually working on social skills and this always frustrated me.

Another thing going on for me was that the human brain is always playing tricks on us. At one point in my life I experienced a type of social skills coaching that really helped me feel more confident in my approach to talking with other people, especially women. I really liked this approach because it appeared to be helping me but looking back on it now I do wonder if it was not just my brain playing tricks on me telling me it was helping when indeed it was not really helping with the underlying issue at all.


Of course this brings us to another question when it comes to autism. What is really the underlying issue? Is the underlying issue really poor social skills or could it be more to do with a low self-esteem and poor confidence as a result of years of social isolation and pain.



I think the answer to that question can be different for each person. For me there were both issues present in my life. What I had to do was actually sit down and ask myself what the more pressing or troubling issue was. Once I decided the more troubling issue was my confidence and low self-esteem I began to come up with ways to improve on my confidence and self-esteem without actually ever even working on social skills at all.


All I ever wanted in life was for other people to accept me for who I was. The problem was that after lots of research I began to think it was impossible for other people to accept me for who I was because of my autism diagnosis. At the core of the autism diagnosis in my research was someone who had trouble with social skills and struggled with connecting with others.



Somewhere in my life journey I had convinced myself that there was no way that other people would ever accept me or like me for who I was as long as I didn’t fix my social skills. In other words I convinced myself that the only way others would like me and accept me for who I was as a person was if I mastered social skills and become an expert at all social situations. Thus my obsession with social skills coaching was born.



While social skills coaching seems like an appealing approach at first let me tell you it was one of the most stressful things I had ever done. Here I was convinced that the only way to get others to like me and accept me for who I was as a person was to somehow learn all of these magical social skills that in a way would change who I was as a person. Yes, I was obsessed with trying to change who I was in order to get other people to like me. That is a very unhealthy situation to live in and one that also led to many other mental health problems along the way that made my autism seem worse.


I want to stress that another thing that happens with autism is that there are indeed other mental and emotional problems that come along with autism due to the situations that arise themselves because of autism. These other situations that occur may or may not be related to autism at all but because autism is the main diagnosis that I had every single mental and emotional problem I had was attributed to autism in my brain. This is a very unhealthy outlook on life and caused me a lot of emotional pain because I blamed autism for everything. I was not a very fun person to be around and was not a very positive role model for the autism community because I was really totally convinced that autism was the reason I was depressed and wanted to die.


Here is my discovery. It was not autism at all that was causing me pain. It was my beliefs towards autism that were causing me a tremendous amount of pain. This is when I really began to study beliefs and began understanding how I basically controlled my own reality and could create the life I wanted to have based upon my own belief system.



I know the idea of the fact that you have the power to create your own reality seems a little strange and that’s okay because it seemed very strange for me at first but the more I go on through life the more I realize that I do have the power and ability to create my own happiness based upon what I choose to believe about life.



If you believe autism is a bad thing that is ruining your life then sure it is likely that autism will come along and ruin your life. But, if you can believe that autism is a great thing and is going to begin doing amazing things in your life and make you a very happy person then there is a good chance that your autism will have more positive impacts in your life.


While there is definitely something to be said for what you think is what you get or what you think is your own reality I want to stress very carefully that we need to be careful with this CBT approach to life.


I once read a book about CBT and it was talking about how what you expect to happen is exactly what is going to happen and it used the example if you expect a bill in the mail every day then you are going to get a bill in the mail every day, then it said if you expect a check in the mail every day you are likely to get a check in the mail every day. I read this and bought into it and wanted to believe it. This was what I used to think CBT was but this is not good CBT. The truth is to simply expect a check in the mail every day is simply unrealistic and not always going to happen. CBT isn’t about creating things out of nothing but it does suggest that if you think positively positive things are more likely to happen for you while if you think negatively negative things are more likely to happen for you.


One thing that we need to support others with autism in understanding is with this CBT approach we can not always take everything word for word or as stated. In other words we can not always take things so literally. This is common for people with autism. We are very literal thinkers and often take things word for word but in order to be successful in life we must learn how to not be so literal because quite simply the world is not very literal at all when it comes to the way in which it works.



Cognitive Behavior Therapy takes a lot of hard work. It will not change your life overnight because it takes weeks, months, if not years of actual practice in order for you to get the hang of it. I always used to wonder how others with autism could be so happy and embrace their autism the way that they did. It made me sad that I could not view my autism as positively as they did and I thought there was something magical about those people and their autism. The reality is they had just learned to view life positively and I had learned to view life through a negative lens.



A lot about life is about determining which lens you are going to view your life through. You can choose to view it through a negative lens if you want to or you can choose to view it through a very positive lens. Either way you are going to be creating your own life and your own reality. You can choose to create your own happiness or your own misery depending on what it is you want to learn how to create.



It took me so long to realize that I was choosing sadness over happiness. I didn’t think sadness was something that you could choose. I thought it was just something that happened to you that you had no control over. But thankfully that is not true and I have began to learn that I can choose to either sit and be sad or to be happy and go out and celebrate life.



With that being said this book is all about a celebration of happiness. This book is about celebrating life but more importantly about celebrating autism. Because when you get through the mental health stuff that you go through with autism you begin to really see that autism for most people is very beautiful and creates a lot of amazing things in your life.


Even looking back at my life I realize how many beautiful things autism had created in my life for me. I was once one of the best trombone players in the country and I can directly attribute that to my autism because playing the trombone was a special interest for me for years in middle school and high school.



I would spend 5 or 6 hours each day practicing the trombone and treating it like it was a profession for me and this was all just as a junior higher. By the time I got to high school I was playing in all region and state honors bands and had even been accepted into the school of music at Indiana University which was one of the best music schools in the United States of America. I was very proud of myself and my accomplishments of playing the trombone. I know that I would not have been so talented at playing trombone if it was not for my autism and my attention to detail with the special interest in becoming one of the most amazing trombone players in the world. That is something about autism I am very grateful for. It really did make me one of the most amazing trombonist in the country and for that I am thankful. That is something to celebrate about autism and trust me there are many other things about my life to celebrate with autism as well.



So just how could it be that changing one little thing about your life could change your life? How could changing one thing about your life turn autism from something negative into something positive in which we celebrate? How could changing your beliefs about life change how autism impacts your life? That is something I will attempt to answer throughout this book as we begin to look at cognitive behavior therapy and its relationship to autism spectrum disorder.



When it comes to helping someone with autism we must not only look at how the autism diagnosis affects a person but we must also then look at this person’s real life experiences and take into consideration everything that have been through in relationship to having autism.


Many times people with autism are bullied for the way in which they understand the social world. This bullying and poor treatment can have devastating impacts on their life. It can then lead to severe mental health problems that will actually lead to a very poor outlook on life. Let’s face it without cognitive behavior therapy it is easy to develop a negative attitude after years and years of negative experiences in life. If we have had years and years of positive experiences in life instead then it would be much easier for us to have developed a positive outlook in life.



Having a positive outlook in life is very important to us and our mental health. Having a negative attitude about life generally creates a lot of mental health issues that just do not need to be there but due to having experienced so many negative things in our life those issues are always going to be constantly present and create a lot of bad things in our lives.



Therefore in order to truly begin to understand how we must help someone with autism we not only have to understand their autism but we must also understand their life experiences in relationship to autism to begin the long process of helping them.


A prime example of this is that I am someone who grew up paying people to hang out with me and like me. This was an experience I had many times in my life and something that I learned to do. Paying other people to hang out with me was a learned behavior that I experienced over many years of middle School and high school and even into college. This didn’t happen because I was autistic no, but this happened because I let other people take advantage of me due to my lack of social understanding. However, I was quick to blame this on autism and thought that autism was this terrible thing because it made me have to pay others to hang out with them or be friends with them. This was devastating to my mental health and led to years of depression and negative thinking.



It is important to note here that the depression and negative thinking were not a result of autism but a result of real life social situations that I had found myself in due to my lack of social understanding. These learned experiences led to a very unhealthy belief that the only way for me to make friends or get a girlfriend was to pay others to like me. This created years of bad mental health and suicide attempts that I always thought were from my autism diagnosis but they were more likely to be from a severe mental health diagnosis that was caused due to my lack of social understanding.



In order for me to change this behavior I first needed to change my belief about the situation in order for me to do anything about the behavior or changing my reality. I really needed to be able to believe that I didn’t have to pay others to like me in order for me to not have to pay others to like me.



There were a couple of things that I had to do to change this belief. The first and the hardest was to just believe that I didn’t have to pay other people to like me. I just needed to believe that I was a real person worthy of love and friendship and I would be able to find that just like anyone else in life could. I really needed to believe that I was equal to others and not less than them because of my autism.


After spending many years believing that my autism made me less than other people it took me a long time to buy into the notion that I was just as good as someone else and worthy of the same friendships and love that they received. But none the less today I think I am there.



The other thing that I had to do and this is important with the autism is that I had to really work on conversation skills. Conversation doesn’t come so natural for me and so I had to study how to talk to people. I needed to know how to deepen conversations and what questions to ask them. I needed to know how to make conversation flow.


See when it comes to helping someone with autism I think it is very much a two folded approach. First and probably the biggest step we can take is to try and change the way we view life, autism, and everything about life. We need to change our beliefs in order to change our reality.



Second, we must also continue to work on social skills. When I say working on social skills I am not talking about coming up with some magic pill to change who we are because it is not necessary to change who we are. What I am talking about is learning to read social cues and engage in conversations with others. For me this was a huge thing and something I really wanted to be able to learn but I just didn’t feel like I had much of a social vocabulary for years. Part of that was just the fact that I didn’t have much of a vocabulary socially because I did have autism. The other part was that I believed I did not have a good social vocabulary and I believed I was bad at socializing and because I believed this it was a huge part of my reality.


I cannot tell you enough how once my beliefs about myself and life began to change my life really began to change for the better and improve. I have never been so happy in my life and because of this I feel that autism and life in general is something to celebrate and adore. I am truly blessed with the life I have been given and want to live each day with passion and thankfulness.



It is certain that autism will change your life. It can change your life for worse or for the better but the cool thing for me is in learning that I had control or power in how or which way autism would change my life. I spent years feeling helpless and not having power to control my life. Over the past year I have slowly been learning how to take control of my life back and gain the power back that I need in order to enjoy autism and live happy with it. This is something I am very thankful for. I think that autism is definitely a journey and as the book series continues I will continue to talk about my victories with life and autism.



It is a great feeling to wake up every morning and know that autism is not going to ruin your life but it is actually going to be a huge part of creating your happiness for that day. That outlook didn’t come easily for me but it is now a part of my reality in the way that I think each day that has improved my quality of life and made autism something to celebrate for me.



The point I hope people take away from this book is that we control our own destiny and have the power to create our own happiness. Something I struggled with for many years was in expecting others to create my happiness for me. That is simply unrealistic and unsustainable for anyone. I think that in order to really be happy we must first find ways to be happy with ourselves and enjoy the life we have been given.



Autism was once something that I felt destroyed my life but now it is something that I believe creates happiness each and every day for me. This is powerful and autism has the potential to not only change my life but change the lives of people around me. It is all in how I choose to use my autism and part of that relates to how I choose to view and believe my autism impacts me.



The most important thing to remember is that we always have a choice. We often choose the situations that we are in because we choose our belief systems in which create the feelings that we have. If we can simply change our belief systems about life then we can begin to change the way we feel and that is when we really begin to start living.



Many people think that the belief is a response to a feeling that we have but in reality it is the feeling that is in response to a belief that we have. If we change our beliefs than we can go a long ways towards changing our feelings. This is when we really begin to start living and enjoying life.



Because I have changed my beliefs about life and everything in life autism is now something to celebrate each and every day. This book and the rest of the books in this series will be all about a celebration related to autism spectrum disorder and the life I have been blessed with.



Chapter Two The Power of Your Beliefs



Who would have thought that how we believe about something in our lives can affect the reality of what happens in our lives. Even further, who would have thought that we actually have control over what we believe and have the ability to make choices to decide what we are going to choose to believe.


For many years I did not believe I had any control over what I believed. I experienced a lot of social rejection and bullying growing up due to me having Asperger Syndrome.



I went without a diagnosis until I was twenty-two years old. This meant that I did not understand what was happening to me or why it was happening to me. This led to the development of an unhealthy belief system which would lead to many years of suffering that was not needed.



Beliefs are powerful things. Many people misunderstand things like depression and think that we are naturally depressed due to the things and events that are happening in our lives. This couldn’t be further from the truth.



While the many events that we are dealing with in life can certainly lead to beliefs that can cause our depressed feelings it is not the events that trigger that depression at all, it is instead how we choose to believe about those events that triggers that depression deep inside of us.



There is a terrific program in the autism community called Son rise in which I am a huge fan of. The concept of getting to choose our beliefs was for many years very foreign to me. I could never understand how I could have the power to control my beliefs or change how I felt about life. But that is exactly the kind of power that I have and that is the kind of power you have as well.



It does not matter if you have autism or whatever diagnosis you might have. Believe it or not the power is within you to decide how you are going to feel each day and those feelings are going to come based off of the beliefs that you choose to believe each and every day.


I used to wake up every morning feeling like I was not good enough for anyone and would never make a good friend or boyfriend. These sad beliefs led to a lot of despair and depression. I was extremely depressed and often very suicidal but who wouldn’t be based on the type of beliefs that I was having and dealing with.

Having the power to change your own beliefs also means that you have the power to change your life. For many years I think I was sitting around and waiting on someone else to change my life for me. I did not feel very empowered at all. I felt helpless and even developed something called learned helplessness in which I would basically sit around and wait for other people to fix my problems for me. I did not have any confidence in myself and would never have dreamed that I would have the ability to fix my own problems. Even further, I never imagined that I could fix all of my problems by changing how I chose to believe about things in my life.



As an adult I have many responsibilities. One of the scariest things for me about being in control of my life and having the power to choose my own beliefs was that it came with a tremendous amount of responsibility. When you alone are choosing your own destiny in life it comes with a lot of responsibility because you are the sole creator and destroyer of your own life. Once you begin to realize you have the power to control your own beliefs and run your own life you have a lot of responsibility and there is no longer anyone else to blame for your sadness and despair but yourself.



For a long time I resisted the idea that I could control my own beliefs about life. I thought it was well beyond my control. I was scared about the tremendous responsibility I would have for my own life if I had some kind of magical power to control my own beliefs.



My belief system actually led me to believe that only special people or non-disabled people had the power to control their own beliefs and make their own choices in life. I felt like I was not capable of doing this or anything else in life because of my disability.



I spent a lot of years being depressed because I was so socially isolated and struggling to fit in with my autism. This negative experience in life really made me develop a negative belief system with a very low self-esteem.



As I began to research Autism and Asperger Syndrome I began to learn about the core symptoms of the disorder. I thought one of those core symptoms was social skills so I immediately became obsessed with social skills coaching. I wanted to learn as many social skills as possible so that I would have the greatest chance of being able to fit in and make friends. Looking back on it now, I realize social skills are not really that important in the overall picture of life. What is more important is believing in who you are and having a positive outlook on life. That positive outlook on life will often come from how we choose to form beliefs about our lives or what is going on in our lives.



How can someone be so positive and be so happy about life when there is nothing good in life? It is all about perception. Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. Many even the worst things in life can have a positive spin put on them if you really want to be happy. It is all in your control. If you just make the choice to be happy you can achieve happiness and free yourself from the pain of depression.


I do not think depression is a choice. It is a serious mental illness but how a person chooses to respond to that depression is a choice and sometimes we have to be taught the hard way that we have choices and are in control of our own lives.



It is never easy to change your belief system. It gets harder the older you get but it is never too late to begin to change the way we think.



I used to spend my days reading books about social skills but now I choose to spend my days reading books about depression and cognitive behavior therapy. I choose to spend my time reading books about things that can help me change the way I feel so that I can live a better life and be happy.


I used to think that learning all of the social skills in the world would automatically make me feel better. I even thought that learning all of the social skills in the world would actually cure my autism. But the reality is I do not really need a cure for autism because I can choose to just be happy and embrace my autism and love it. When I love my autism it is really like loving myself for who I am because autism is a big part of who I am.


So how does a person go about changing their beliefs? As I mentioned earlier it is never easy. The first thing you have to do is challenge yourself or be challenged by someone else.



I have a lot of great friends who have really challenged me to think differently about life and see another view point about it. When I would complain about autism and how I thought it was ruining my life they would point out the many positive things about autism and in turn the many positive things about me and who I was as a person because of my autism.



Changing my beliefs has been very difficult mainly because I am a stubborn person who had spent over thirty years developing a negative belief system. I feel so thankful and grateful that with hard work I have slowly been able to transform my belief system into a more positive one that is providing me with much happiness in life.


It is a great feeling not to be helpless anymore. For much of my twenties I thought autism was going to kill me and even attempted suicide a few times because I felt so dark and hopeless.


Now in my thirties I am seeing light and many positive things that are coming from that light. I used to gravitate towards the many negative things but now I actually gravitate towards the many positive things in life and there are many positive things.



I am a live and well. I am breathing. I have a lot of friends and I am an outstanding person with a lot going for me. I have an amazing family. I am an author and I help people understand autism a little bit better. There are many purposes for my life and I have been so overwhelmed by happiness in the past few months.

Changing my beliefs has taken a lot of hard work. Sometimes it is frustrating because you just want to give up and resort back into the old way of thinking but that is never a good option and not an option I choose.



As a kid growing up I would have never imagined it being so difficult to change how I believe about things. But then again at the same time I would have never imagined that being able to change how I believe about something would actually improve or change the way that I feel about life.



Whenever you have negative beliefs you simply just need to try and replace them with more positive beliefs. Sometimes I believe that I am not a very good person. I have to constantly challenge that belief with evidence to the contrary that I am a great person and care about other people. Sometimes our mind plays tricks on us and it is set up to naturally make us believe in all of the negative things. We must challenge our minds and really step out of our comfort zone to begin finding happiness by choosing to believe in better things that will help us have a more positive outlook on life.



Ideally we want to get to the point in which positive beliefs are the natural occurrence or first thought that comes into our minds. That is very hard to do so at first we simply have to be able to recognize the negative beliefs and challenge them with more positive and appropriate beliefs.


Our beliefs have a tremendous effect on our emotions and our behavior. If I believe I am a bad person I am not going to be very confident in myself. Therefore I am not going to behave in a very confident manner. If I am choosing to believe that life is negative and there is nothing good about life then I am going to behave like life is terrible and not be a very positive person to be around. In fact, I would probably be a very miserable person to be around.



Your negative beliefs are not a part of you. They are not a part of who you are. They are intrusive thoughts that are interfering with your life and your ability to be who you are and live the life you want to live. Yes, your brain is the only thing standing between you and the happiness that you deserve.


These are all lessons that I am continuing to learn on a daily basis. I am feeling very good about my progress on this journey called life and the journey to happiness. It is so empowering to realize that I have control over my own happiness and I do not need anyone else to create my happiness for me.


For many years I was a very unhealthy and unstable person because I believed I needed someone else to create my happiness for me. This caused me to over rely on a lot of other people to make me happy. This put a lot of responsibility on other people to create my happiness for me. A responsibility that was unfair to them and made it hard for me to sustain friendships with other people because our friendships were so unhealthy because of my own mental health.



The older I get the more I realize I need to take control of my life and no matter how difficult it is for me I must take responsibility for my own beliefs. No one else can change the way I think but me and I must take on the task of changing my thinking and controlling my beliefs. I want my beliefs to be more positive so I choose to have a positive response to things even when things do not go exactly as planned.



I am now more prepared to take on the unexpected and control my response to things because I am more programmed with a positive belief system. I create my own happiness now and I do not need others to create it for me. I have noticed that this seems to make me a much more positive person to be around. I feel other people actually enjoy my company when I am more positive which is amazing because it will create many more opportunities for me to be friends with other people. That is exactly what I am looking for.



One of my most negative beliefs about autism used to be that I was so unworthy of being loved or getting a girlfriend. I did not have confidence to talk to girls at all and would have never thought that I as a person with autism could get a girlfriend.


I knew that there were people with autism who dated and had girlfriends but I would always find evidence as to why I would be someone with autism who would never be able to find love or get a girlfriend.



When I looked at the statistics for people with autism who were married the statistics were very low. My negative thinking automatically led me to assume that I would be a part of that statistic and be one of the people with autism who would never be able to get married and have a family.


My brain was programmed to think very negatively about everything and this was creating a very unhealthy depression in me. This is something that I finally realized I needed to work on even more importantly than learning any social skills.



Since I have been using cognitive behavior therapy to change my beliefs or challenge them I am actually a lot happier. I am finding that there is not as much need to work on social skills because I am just happy the way things are and do not see as much need to change things about my life in order to be happy.



You might even say that learning cognitive behavior therapy and changing your beliefs is a social skill in itself. For me it is the most important social skill I have ever learned.



No longer do I feel obsessed with learning some magical social skill to change who I am. I do not think learning CBT has changed who I am, it has just changed how I think about myself and the person I am.



I used to feel like I was broken because of my autism but now I feel like I am whole. I feel like I am a happy person with a lot going on for me. I also feel as if I have a lot to offer the world around me.



Changing my beliefs has not been easy and I know that growing up having a negative belief system I will always need to be conscious of that belief system and be prepared to challenge all of those negative beliefs that creep into my life.


It has become easier to challenge those beliefs over time and with lots of practice. CBT is not something that you just learn overnight and apply it directly to your life. It is a skill that takes patience and practice to apply it to your life. It is a skill that is much needed in my life and so I am willing to put the time and effort into practicing that skill so that I can live a better life and be happy again.


I remember being happy as a child. For years as an adult I did not feel that same happiness as a child and I blamed my autism for that. For the first time in years I am now starting to feel that happiness again that I felt as a child. I am starting to be happy and enjoy life again. I still have autism but now I see autism as something to enjoy and not as something to dread.



I know that my positive outlook will lead to many positive things for me. It can also lead to many positive things for you if you choose to have a positive outlook on life. The choice is entirely up to you. That used to really bother me when someone put that responsibility on me like I was making a choice. I used to feel like other people thought that I was just choosing to be sad and feel bad but the reality is I was. I did not understand the how or the why but we are in control of our lives and for years in my twenties I was not in control of mine. But now that I am in my thirties I am starting to be back in control of my life.



You have to look for ways to challenge your belief. If you believe bad things happen then all you have to do is search and look for one time when something bad did not happen. If you can find just one time that something bad did not happen then you have found evidence to prove your belief that bad things always happen is wrong. It just takes one small glimpse of evidence to change your perspective and the way in which you look at your life.


As time goes on you will find more and more pieces of evidence that prove your initial beliefs to be wrong. When you are able to find these pieces of evidence store them somewhere in your mind and whenever you feel a negative belief coming on resort to the evidence that you found that challenges the belief and says bad things do not always happen.



Storing evidence has been crucial for me. Lately I have been collecting a lot of evidence. Great things are happening for me. I have recently began turning my books about autism into audio books so more people can hear them and read them. That is a positive thing that proves that bad things do not always happen to me.


Lately there have been a lot of positive things happening for me. I am learning to code so I am learning how to build websites and one day I may be able to get a job as a coder or web designer doing something I am interested in.



I now believe that my dreams can come true and I no longer see them as being doomed by autism. Autism sometimes gets a bad reputation in our minds because of all of the mental health stuff that comes along with it.

It is natural to understand how someone with autism who experiences a life time of rejection and bullying can become so negative and feel so depressed. When we do not exactly have labels for the other mental health stuff that is going on it is easy for us to blame all of our despair and depression on autism. I know that is what I did for a long time because I just did not understand the other issues that were causing my depression. Those issues were present because of my social isolation but autism did not directly lead to my depression. It indirectly led to my depression and that is something that is very important to understand.


Autism will not directly cause a mental illness but it can indirectly lead to a mental illness. It does this because of the social situations that present themselves in someone who has autism’s life. It is not just because they are autistic that they are depressed but instead is more likely to be that they feel lonely or socially isolated as a reason for being depressed.



One caution about CBT is that you have to make sure you are really practicing CBT. I remember reading some crazy thing in a book one time and because I was naive I really believed in it.


The author was talking about how you create your own reality and what you expect to happen is actually what will happen. The author stated that if you expect to receive a bill in the mail every day then you are likely to receive a bill in the mail every day. Then she said if you expect to receive a check in the mail every day then you are more likely to receive a check. I remember reading that and thinking how awesome that statement was. It also seemed like the principles of that thought would be pretty easy to apply.


I was hopeful and I began to expect a check in the mail every day. After a week of no checks I was pretty disappointed. After two weeks of no checks I was devastated. After three weeks of no checks in the mail I was completely heartbroken and felt lied to. I had decided to give up on the idea of CBT because I thought it just did not work. This was nearly fifteen years ago now and I am able to realize that it did not work because the author was not very realistic in his approach to explaining CBT.



While expecting a bill in the mail every day is an extremely negative outlook it will likely lead to negative things happening in your life. It does not necessarily mean that there is going to be a bill that shows up in your mail each and every single day.



The same is true with the positive belief of expecting a check in the mail every day. That does not mean that a check is going to appear in your mail box every day but it does make it more likely that a check might appear in your mail box from time to time or something positive might come in the mail.



Expecting specific things to happen can be pretty unrealistic so I have just learned to expect positive things in general. I no longer expect negative things to happen and because I am more positive I have found that negative things occur less and positive things are occurring more frequently in my life.



It is important to be realistic when changing your belief system and the way in which you think about life. You cannot expect to have thousands of positive things happen right away just because you are thinking more positive. This is just a general concept and something that will take a long time in order for us to understand. While the principle thinking pattern of your daily life might change it does not mean that there will never be another negative thing that happens to you in life. It also does not mean that positive things are going to come at you left and right.



What it does mean is that positive things are more likely to start coming at you left and right and throughout your life if you are willing to make the choice to think more positive and change the way in which you believe about things in life. The more positive you are the more likely positive things are going to happen in your life.



I want everyone to remember that this is just like many other things in life. It is not a fairy tale cure all solution to all of your problems. It does not mean that you get to just sit around and be lazy. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I have to work very hard at feeling positive and having positive beliefs. If I did not work hard I would sit around and allow all of the negative things to creep up on me in life and they would continue to consume me just like they did throughout much of my twenties. I must work hard to not only identify my negative beliefs but challenge them each and every day.



For me changing my belief system is a two step approach. I must first identify a negative belief and then I must challenge it. Both steps are very hard but challenging it can be the trickiest because I must find evidence to prove that the belief is not one-hundred percent true. If I can just find one piece of evidence that suggests that my belief is not one hundred percent true then that means there is a one percent chance that my belief is not true. That my friends is positive ground to build on and that theory of mind has made a huge difference in my life.


Theory of mind is something we often talk about in autism. Sometimes people with autism struggle greatly with theory of mind. That is relating to other people and understanding how other people process and think about things.



One thing I have learned is that my theory of mind is really no different than anyone’s. Sometimes I think we get this diagnosis of autism and we read about it and I know for me I went in and picked a part every single symptom and thought it was me or blew it up in my mind.


For example when I first read about theory of mind and autism I automatically assumed I had a bad theory of mind and wouldn’t relate to the way in which other people thought. That meant for years I thought that my mind was broken and would never process things in life like neurotypicals could. That right there was a defeating belief. I now challenge that belief and know that I am every bit as capable as neurotypicals are at processing things and doing many other things in life that they are. Are there certain things that are more challenging for me than they might be for other people? Absolutely, but aren’t there certain things in life that are more challenging for some than they are for others?



The most empowering thing about your life is that you are in control of it. No one else is controlling your destiny but you. That is quite a responsibility and not one to be taken lightly. If you ever need encouragement for help with changing your belief system or for just anything please feel free to reach out to me on Facebook. It is quite easy to find me there.



I hope to help others along the same journey to happiness so that they can too achieve the same feelings of happiness that I have over the past few months.



The challenge is big but like me I think you are up for it. You can do many amazing things to create your own happiness. I was more than ready to find ways to create my own happiness rather than putting that responsibility on other people. I used to want others to do everything for me. When I was so sick and mentally ill I felt helpless and wanted others to fix all of my problems for me. But when it comes down to it I was the sole creator and destroyer of my life. I had the power to create my own happiness deep within me. I just needed a little bit of help finding it.


If you are stuck in that place where you need a little bit of help finding it, I hope you read this book and find some inspiration and encouragement in knowing that you are not alone and you too like me will be able to find your own happiness, change your own beliefs, and begin living the life that you deserve to live.



Beliefs are powerful things. I used to think social skills were powerful but I think that beliefs are even more powerful. What you believe is your reality so in other words what you believe is basically what will define your life. Do you want to believe negatively and have a negative life or do you want to choose to believe positively and have a positively amazing life?


It was the hardest thing to me to realize and take ownership of the fact that the choice of a negative or positive life was all on me and I had to own that choice. But now that I own the positive choice I have seen first hand how my life has changed and been impacted by greatness and blessed by happiness. I know that the same can happen for you. I encourage you and will be your biggest fan along the way. Keep up the hard work and your life will be amazingly blessed.



Chapter Three Autism Is My Super-Power



I did not always think that autism gave me awesome super-powers. In fact, if you would have met me even a year ago you would know that I was often sad and depressed because I was autistic.

Life is all about beliefs and us as human beings often create our own beliefs and our own belief system. I grew up feeling very misunderstood and lonely. I wanted to have friends but did not know how to go about making those new friendships. Because of this I was left socially isolated with very few social contacts and this left me feeling very lonely, vulnerable, and depressed.

When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of twenty-two I thought I might be onto something. I started pursuing different treatments that I thought would fix me or make my autism go away.

My first mistake was in thinking that somehow or someway I needed to be fixed as if something was severely wrong with me. My second mistake was in thinking that I needed to make autism go away. I was so sad, and I had this belief that it was the autism that was ruining my life and making life hard for me. I desperately wanted my autism to go away. But now I am glad that my autism never went away, and it is here to stay because I know understand and appreciate the fact that autism is a big part of who I am and makes me the unique and awesome person that I have to day.

Did I always have super-powers because I was autistic? Absolutely. Did I always see and recognize those super-powers that autism gave me? Probably not.

Without a great understanding of myself and who I was I did not have the chance to appreciate all the positive things that autism was bringing into my life. Being a positive thinker is a very challenging thing to do. My brain learned growing up to naturally think negatively and assume that life was negative. This is a learned style of thinking that became my default thinking method.

As I became a teenager and started wanting more social interactions and more positive social relationships with my peers I felt more and more rejected because I did not understand the social game or the nuances that it took to socialize with other people and form deep meaningful relationships with them.

As I became a teenager tremendous amounts of anxiety and depression started to set in. At this point I was not even diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome or autism yet but the depression and anxiety that I was dealing with had already became a bigger deal than the autism was, and I did not even know that I had Asperger Syndrome yet. I did not even know that I suffered from anxiety or depression at that point either.

Depression hit me like a brick wall. There are all sorts of kinds of depression. There is a chemical imbalance and then there is what I call situational depression. For me the biggest challenge that I was dealing with was the situational depression that I was dealing with because I did not understand how to connect with other people and form social relationships with them. By the time I was sixteen I had gone into a deep depression and I would spend much of my life there until the age of 32 or 33.


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