The Journey Never Ends: My Final Blog Post (for now)

Editors Note: Max is a 20-year-old college student who just so happens to have Asperger’s Syndrome. He is an intern at the Friendship Circle of Michigan and has been a part of the organization since 2004.

I have said it before to you, my audience, that I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of eight, in October of 2004, following my participation in a study at Detroit Children’s Hospital.

In the past twelve years this piece of myself has shifted and changed so many times, that I cannot begin to guess how many. I’ve been through more than someone my age should have to go through and my family will vouch this statement, although my life pales in comparison to so many people I have met, both on the Autism spectrum and off it.

For so long I tried to push this part of myself away. I convinced myself that having Asperger’s would be an obstacle blocking my path to achieving my goals. In my own self-hatred, I lashed out at my brother Gabriel, in a misguided attempt to perhaps give him a better chance at succeeding in life than I had.

I still find myself subconsciously judging him, as well as others I have met on the spectrum. It has taken me much internal reflection and soul-searching to accept myself and him. In my teen years, the weight I carried increased with additional diagnoses of depression, at age thirteen, and anxiety, at age sixteen. All of that combined with the stress I faced in high school I was beyond overwhelmed.

Throughout all of this, all the insanity and madness that pervades this world, there have been very few constant things in my life. One of those happens to be the Friendship Circle.  When I took on this position, as an intern assisting with creating written content, I remarked to my family that I really had come full circle (pun intended).

Shortly after my diagnosis (the first one, in 2004) we became involved with the organization and I attended the Friendship Circle winter camp that December. Throughout my childhood I would participate in multiple programs including: Friends at Home, Friends at Lifetown and Karate, and I would walk with my family in the annual Walk 4 Friendship.  We participated in the walk every from it’s inception in 2005 until 2012, when school began to get in the way. I know everyone here very well and I credit them with helping me to become the man I am today.

The Granitz/Fogel/Zussman Walk team, 2007.

Me at 12 years old, camera in hand, ready to capture the world around me.

(Left to right) Noah, Gabriel, our mom, DeAnna, then me- October 2008.

I will be honest. It is very bittersweet to reflect on the last twelve years. It feels as if they have flown by at an impossible pace. Back then, I struggled to get through the day at school. I was very shy and after hearing the words “he has autism”, and learning what they meant, I could not hope to envision a scenario where all my dreams could still come true.

Now, I’m about to enter my third year in college. I’ve traveled essentially alone to New York City, most of Western Europe, and Israel. I’ve been published three times in a literary journal and twice by an international online publication platform. I’m on my way to becoming a full-fledged writer!

If you said to me even five years ago that this would be my life, I would have never believed you. I could only dream of my future back then. The dreams that I held onto seemed as inconsequential and incorporeal as a wisp of smoke. Now, I’m living that future I wanted so desperately. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s more than I could have ever hoped for.

I took this on the train bound for Toronto, just a few weeks ago. It is still surreal to me that I am 20 years old.

I owe much of it to the support I received over the course of these twelve years from the wonderful staff here at the Friendship Circle and the volunteers who spent countless hours with me. When I was younger, the highlight of my week was coming to the Friendship Circle and participating in Friends at Lifetown, as well as Karate.

For a while I resisted it, but I realized that it was doing me good, so I stayed with it; it paid off in the end because I learned skills that would come to benefit me years later.

The title is, sadly, accurate. For the foreseeable future, I will be unable to continue contributing to the blog when I return to school. This experience has been invaluable. I have learned so much in these twelve weeks. Thank you to everyone for the incredible responses and feedback you have given.

Not only did I have the opportunity to return to a place that holds so many happy memories for me to provide resources to parents of and individuals with special needs, but I have noticed a growth in my skill as a writer as well.
This is Max Granitz, signing off.
“Good night, and good luck.”

For media inquiries, please contact Melanie Barnett at [email protected].

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