I'm also reading Naoki Higashida's book The Reason I Jump. My girlfriend gave it to me to read. In the book Naoki is asked, "What's the worst thing about having autism?" Naoki responds to the question by writing/pointing (he has a special system for pointing out characters so he can communicate) and says, "Really, you have no idea quite how miserable we are . . . you can't imagine how miserable and sad we get. Whenever we've done something wrong, we get told off or laughed at, without even being able to apologize, and we end up hating ourselves and despairing about our own lives, again and again and again. It's impossible not to wonder why we were born into this world as human beings at all. But I ask you, those of you who are with us all day, not to stress yourselves out because of us. When you do this, it feels as if you're denying any value at all that our lives may have - and that saps the spirit we need to soldier on. The hardest ordeal for us is the idea that we are causing grief for other people. We can put up with our own hardships okay, but the thought that our lives are the source of other people's unhappiness, that's plain unbearable" (Higashida, 41).
I love his last line. In my life, I sometimes see other people being unhappy with me, and it is a major source of discomfort for me. Sometimes, I don't even understand why they feel that way. I'm a people pleaser. I like seeing people be pleased. I hate seeing people be upset with me. On the one hand, this is a major weakness and vulnerability for me. But on the other hand, it is an endearing quality and a huge motivator for me to do my best work. I like seeing the kids and the teachers and the parents be happy. It's my calling in life. I like seeing other people be happy. It's magic. And through that - that makes me happy. But sadly - it doesn't stop there. There is the other side of it. It doesn't always end on a happy note. But it's important to be aware of both sides.
I also dislike people who readily dismiss people. I do it sometimes, but I am aware of it and try not to do it. There is value in every person's life. And it's our job to find that value in what other people have to say and who they are. And to help them express that.