Tuesday, December 22, 2009

From Leigh

Hi everyone! I was thinking, since Lydia's in the hospital and can't really update her blog like she'd like to, this might be a good time for me to jump in and talk about Lydia from someone else's perspective. Plus, I'm in the middle of finals, and this is a welcome study break! I'm Leigh, by the way. I think Lydia has mentioned me from time to time.

A little bit about me... I'm a Christian, I'm 21, I'm a senior at Lydia's alma mater, and I'm a psychology major. I'd love to someday work with autistic adults. I'm a Young Life leader, my favorite color is green, I love to travel (especially to Mexico), and I love German Shepherds. Oh, and I'm INFJ, according to Myers-Briggs. I think that about sums it up.

So you may think that the reason I became friends with Lydia is because I want to work with autistic adults. Actually, those things happened in reverse order. I have always been very interested in autism, but when I met Lydia, I wanted to be a marriage/family counselor. I have a knack for seeing through conflicts straight to the root of the problem.

My friendship with Lydia developed before she was even diagnosed with anything autism spectrum. When I was a sophomore and she was a junior, we both tried out for a spring dance/colorguard show. That's how I met her, technically, but we didn't really become friends until the following fall during band camp. One of the girls was unnecessarily mean to Lydia, and the injustice struck a nerve with me. Lydia and I chatted more and more, we started going to meals together... and the rest is history.

Anyways, I'd love to talk about some of the things I've learned from being friends with Lydia. The first one is patience. I truly believe that you can never be patient enough, and there are times when I struggle with it, but Lydia has helped be more patient than I was before I met her. Understanding something is not a prerequisite to having patience for it; frequently they go the other way around. If I got annoyed at everything anyone did that I didn't understand, I would be annoyed a lot! So instead of responding with frustration, I have learned to respond with curiosity. This of course extends far beyond hanging out with Lydia.

I've also learned not to make things more complicated than they are. 99% of the time with Lydia, if something is bothering her, it can be solved by cats. "Cats?" "Where's Elsie?" Apparently I've said these things often enough that she can now say them to herself and sometimes she doesn't need me at all! Sometimes I wish it was that simple for me too. Maybe simplicity is bliss?

Although she may not always agree with me, I see Lydia as capable of incredible things. She's already making a difference in the autism world just through this blog! She's got a teacher-like quality that helps her make confusing things really clear, and there is a job out there that really needs that skill. We just have to find it.

I'd like to make a disclaimer of sorts. Sometimes I feel like when Lydia writes about me on here, it makes me look like some kind of saint. Really, I'm no saint. I've figured out some things that are helpful, but it was only after trying a lot of things that WEREN'T helpful. Trial and error, trial and error, trial and... success! I guess I've just gotten lucky sometimes. It's also lucky that I have an awesome cat whom I think Lydia misses more than she misses me!

Lydia has been bugging me for months now to write about "how do I do it" for someone's blog. I've tried to write stuff, but it just ends up being trial and error, listening, and patience. But really, that's it. How do I write a whole blog about that? ...maybe I just have. hm. Anyway, I've never written for a blog that people actually read before, so I'm not sure I've inspired questions. But if I have, feel free to ask!

Merry, merry Christmas!

Leigh

3 comments:

  1. I cannot believe how young you guys are. There is no way I was as wise and grounded as this at 21. I'm barely there at 38!! So good to read your post and hear a little bit about you Leigh. You are a great friend and I'm so glad Lydia has someone like you in her life. I totally encourage you to pursue your vision of working with autistic adults. I feel like you'd be great at it, and I can tell from Lydia's posts that she agrees! Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

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  2. Hi Leigh!

    The best thing is that you are first and foremost Lydia's friend. Not her buddy, her carer or minder, just her friend. Thanks for that Leigh, I hope my girls find proper friends like you too, ones who treat them as an equal and not a pet or charity case. Write a blog about your life that happens to have Lydia in it, why not? I write about life here and sometimes the girls are in it and sometimes not. Life happens and autism comes along for the ride.

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  3. Hello Leigh,

    What a wonderfully informative post. So glad Lydia has a friend like you and vice versa.

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