“We might need to consider other options for you, Hayden. You won’t get to live the life we wanted you to live.” I stared at her for a moment, then choked out one word: “What?” She cleared her throat and pushed her glasses up past the bridge of her nose before continuing. “A group home is probably the best option for you.” Her words hit me with the force of a speeding train. The rest of the session went by in an almost icy silence, occasionally interrupted by her explanations and concerns about me functioning in society. As I left the office, hot tears spilled down my cheeks, blurring my vision and my purpose. My mom tried to comfort me on the car ride home, but all I managed was a half-hearted “Uh-huh” and an occasional “Yeah.” As soon as the car pulled into the driveway, I rushed inside, letting the tears flow freely. I slammed the door and collapsed in a crumpled heap on my bed, my body shaking with sobs.
Many doctors have told me that I will never function in society or live a successful life, but the instance I described above marked the first time I became truly aware of what that meant. At first, this angered me to no end. A few years later, I discovered what I now refer to as “the Last Option.”
Discovering my Last Option, as I called it, changed everything and set the stage for all of the successes I would enjoy in the following years. By age 19, I became a film critic for an online magazine called Lytherus.com and a regular writer for Something Special Magazine, a passionate publication geared toward people with disabilities and their parents. Now, at age 22, I’m an internationally recognized, award-winning writer who currently holds two professional writing jobs in addition to running Asperger Experts with Danny . On top of these external wins, I also experienced internal wins that forever changed my life. I finally knew what real confidence felt like, I realized how much I have to give this world, and I realized that I am an agent of service, not an agent of sloth. And as I racked up these personal and professional achievements, I never forgot that fateful day when I chose the Last Option.
So what is this Last Option? The Last Option is the option you make after you are told you are out of options. You are never truly out of options, because the Last Option is simply creating new options for yourself. The true power behind creating your own options is figuring out that your options only disappear if you let them. For example, I could have easily taken a licensed professional’s advice and moved to a group home, but I chose instead to eliminate that option and open up a new avenue of limitless possibilities for myself. And I’m still exploring that avenue.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been told what I can’t do. A local doctor saw me shortly after I was diagnosed with Asperger’s and ADHD, and told my mother that I would never have any friends and would likely need a group home. I was 5. That doctor didn’t even give me a chance. So already I’ve been told by two doctors that my life won’t ever reach the quality that I desire. Now, when someone says something like that to me, it ceases to be an insult and becomes a challenge. I’m a competitive guy, so the prospect of a challenge excites me. I took that challenge and transformed my life into one on a fast track to success.
I never let someone else decide my fate and tell me what my options are. My options are whatever I want them to be. I’ve seen(and read about) people with Autism learn to speak after years of silence. Think about how many professionals told them they would never hear their own voice.
People with Asperger’s, I speak directly to you: You are enough. If you let someone else govern your destiny, you’ve abandoned your potential and resigned yourself to mediocrity. Please don’t let this happen. Please, please, if you get down to your Last Option, take it and run with it. Explore it. Enjoy it. And live the life you want to live.