Autism Speaks: A Beautiful Reminder Part 2 {finding Joy in the midst of Despair}

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In Bill’s last entry, he presented an overview of his ongoing recovery from Asperger’s Syndrome and how he overcame that to become an occupational therapist. This time, he talks in detail about a key turning point a couple months after he listened to that Paige Armstrong song.</em

 
In life, we have moments where we are on cloud nine and we feel invincible. We can forget God has a hand in getting us there. However, we also have moments where we hit rock bottom. We will question why God places us in such situations. We can forget God is in His master control room watching our every move….
 
 
I found the song Desperate by Joy Williams when I was a sophomore in college. It was a time when I got exposed to Contemporary Christian music for the first time. At that time, I overlooked this song because I purposely wanted to fill my music library with upbeat and positive songs.
 
 
That fall I was attending a students-only occupational therapy conference in Louisville, Kentucky. On the surface, my emotional state was a lot more stable than it was a couple months earlier. My classmates slowly noticed the happy-go-lucky me was coming back. Deep inside, however, my mind was still filled with doubt and hopelessness. This was understandable at the time because I knew I could not fail any more clinical internships when I resumed them in the latter part of the school year. I was worried. As for the conference itself, I had little expectations for it aside from having a few planned moments with Jaclyn, my former opponent in an election for a prestigious student leadership position a few months earlier. 
 
On the first day of the conference I arrived at my hotel (which was also where the conference was taking place) a few hours early. I was waiting for fellow occupational therapy students from USC to arrive so that we could hang out together. Since it was cold outside, I sat in the hotel lobby alone with my USC beanie on and listened to music. Half an hour or so went by when I suddenly saw a girl waving at me. Seeing her luggage tag, I realized it was Jaclyn.

Jaclyn dropped her luggage at the hotel and we chatted for another half hour before going to lunch together. After that, Jaclyn had to do one of her many things during the two-day conference. As she left for her duties, I felt I got my money’s worth already because I was happy that she spent quite a bit of time with me.
 
I had a great time overall during the conference. I got to meet students from other occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant programs across the United States. I was also surprised that my name was mentioned during the conference opening address along with Jaclyn. Because of that, some of the students at the conference realized that I should be someone that they needed to connect with. Yet, I felt a hint of sadness because I knew the doubt and hopelessness would return once I flew back to Los Angeles.
 
God saw that and set up a miracle. The day after the conference concluded, I was ready to fly home to Los Angeles. Knowing that it was the Breeders’ Cup weekend, I arrived at the airport two hours early. Everything went smoothly as I went on to board my plane on time. However, a message from the pilot came notifying the passengers that there was a computer problem for the plane and the passengers were given the option to wait at the gate and reenter the plane once the problems were fixed.
 
I went outside with some other passengers. Anticipating the wait to be long, I listened to music in the lobby. I was so focused on my music that I missed the reboarding time. I was bummed because I was sure it would be very difficult to fly back to Los Angeles on that day because of the many people wanting to return home from the Breeders’ Cup. Fortunately, I was able to secure a return back to Los Angeles by that evening. However, I had to wait four hours for that flight.
 
Knowing that I screwed up, I was determined to not listen to music any more. I was able to find some conference attendees to get through my first hour of waiting. But, I was wondering how I pass time waiting for three more hours. 15 minutes after I had that thought, I saw Jaclyn passed by my gate. So, I went up and asked her about her flight. Her gate was nearby and she was two hours or so early herself for her flight. We satt at my gate and started chatting for almost two hours before we went our separate ways.
 
During that time, I vented to her what I had been going through since founding out about my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. After I was done venting, she gave me a pep talk. The thing I remembered from that pep talk was, “I had respect for you before we even met in person a few days ago for the first time. Now that you told me what you are dealing with, I respect you even more.”
 
As I reflected upon what she said to me on my flight home, I thought, “Did God just set this up so that He can talk to me? Did He provide me with someone who is so kind to help this lowly person? If I have a chance, I am more than willing to do what Jaclyn did to whoever You feel will need my help, Lord.” I was convinced of it because I knew the probability of this happening to me was very slim. Moreover, my doubt and hopelessness began to fade away.
 
Since that pep talk, I have done some extraordinary things in the occupational therapy world. Especially for an autistic individual. While I did not get all of the opportunities I wanted, the fact that I attempted these things and have achieved some successes got me a lot of respect from my occupational therapy peers and those who know me well in the autism community. Moreover, I felt the moment also motivated Jaclyn, too, because she has continued to achieve amazing things that leave me speechless!
 
To The Point:
We constantly need God in our lives. In times of hardship and despair, we will need God a lot more. Thing is- are we ready for God to speak to us during these times? Are we listening? Will we know that God is showing us the way through those around us? Will we be confident to march boldly on in our lives when God has spent time and spoken to us?
 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

The song: Desperate by Joy Williams:

Don’t go, I’m a homesick child
Just stay and talk to me
Even if it’s just for a while
Oh, I’m afraid of the dark
But You are the light
Stay by my side
Lord, without You …

I get a little desperate
Reaching our for Your love
I get a little desperate
To feel Your touch from above
I get desperate
Far away just won’t do
I’m hopelessly, honestly, constantly
Desperate for You

Oh, Lord, when You hung on that tree
You showed once and for all
That You were desperate for me
And I know You’ll be coming back soon
I hope time will fly, I’ll survive
But in the meantime …

I get a little desperate
Reaching out for Your love
I get a little desperate
To feel Your touch from above
I get desperate
Far away just won’t do
I’m hopelessly, honestly, constantly
Desperate for You

Don’t know what I did before You
Never really lived before You
And I want You to know that …

I get a little desperate
Reaching our for Your love
I get a little desperate
To feel Your touch from above
I get desperate
Far away just won’t do
I’m hopelessly, honestly, constantly
Desperate for You

I need You more in my life
I am hopelessly, honestly, constantly
Desperate for You

Blessings,
Bill Wong

#Autism #AutismSpeaks #Overcomer #Asbergers #AdultAutism #JoyInDespair

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Autism Speaks: A Beautiful Reminder Part 1

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All things in nature are imperfectly beautiful. And all have a purpose. What we sometimes think is a stumbling block or hurdle is often a calling – budding first in us in order to bless and grow others. A blessing in disguise. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which GOD prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10.

We are His poem. We are His song.

The following is a post by my new friend, Bill. I’m really enjoying getting to know him through his story. I know you will too.

I love to find new music to listen to. My favorite genre is Contemporary Christian. I love this genre because each of these songs has its own message from the artists.

Unlike 99.5% of the days in my life up until that point, I was sad and mentally drained during the first few weeks of my second year of occupational therapy school. This was an unusual feeling for me because I almost never feel sad. Moreover, I usually never let any negative feelings dwell on more than one day. This time, however, the sad and mentally drained feeling had been going on for three to four weeks.

The reason: I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome just a few days before I began my second year of occupational therapy school. I felt miserable whenever my classmates were happy and smiling, as I felt awkward to not be a buzzkill since I knew most of them were excited to see one another and celebrate they were one step closer to their dreams to be occupational therapists. As for school work itself, I felt like I was pulling a mountain. I knew I needed to cope with this life-changing event and prevent further complications. However, I also knew I needed to study and I wanted to get my license as soon as possible because I already accepted the fact that I would be get my occupational therapist license a few months later than my classmates with a reasonable possibility of not even achieving the goal. So, I was contemplating the idea of taking a leave of absence as the add/drop deadline was only a week away.

It was while contemplating this decision 3 1/2 years ago that I stumbled onto the song called Wake Up by Paige Armstrong. Once I listened to the full song online, I felt things beginning to make sense even though I didn’t know why. So, I researched Paige’s bio and learned that she was a childhood cancer survivor. In addition to writing music, she also writes books targeting young people. Instantly, I told myself, “She endured more than you. Yet, she is motivating others, particularly young people like her. If she can do it, you can too!

From that point on, I slowly began my path of recovery. I had some rough patches along the way before earning my occupational therapist license in late 2012. However, I also made strides to develop myself into a strong autism advocate. Since I was diagnosed I have delivered over half a dozen occupational therapy conference presentations on autism and appeared as a guest on three Internet podcasts and web shows combined. (How all that came about will be discussed in detail in another blog.)

What did God teach me from this song?

We all have something to offer to society, whether it is in our triumphs or in our struggles. What we have is valuable. The information we have needs to be passed on to others who might be experiencing similar things now or in the future. There are many ways to do that online and offline, publicly, or in the comforts of your own home. After all, our life experiences are gifts that we can share with one another, especially when we see someone in need of support. Be a difference maker too.

Bill Wong, OTD, OTR/L

#Autism #AutismSpeaks #Overcomer #craveGod #SpeakUp #Encourage #christyrawlsDOTcom #e3