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Living With Autism

CalmWear

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Date Posted: February 1, 2018

We recently spoke to a wonderful 15 year old boy who is living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He managed to give us an amazing insight into his experiences living with Autism. Here are a few things we learned while talking with him and his family recently.

What do you know about Autism?

I know that it has something to do with my brain. I know that I see the world differently than most people do, and it's not what people would consider 'normal'.

Do you think you are different?

Well in some ways I'm different, but different is sometimes better. It allows me a different way of thinking about things and gives me a different perspective. I can get over obstacles others may not be able to accomplish.

Do you think that you have more challenges than 'normal' people?

Well, challenges differ depending on the person. Something that might be a challenge for a normal person might not be for me and vice versa. It really comes down to your own physical or mental capabilities.

What do you think your strengths are?

Well, I don't really believe I have specific strengths. I see myself more of a jack of all trades. I'm good at everything I try, but not an expert in anything.

What do you think your weaknesses are?

School.

Why school?

At times I do decent academically, but I have a lot challenges with the school system as it's catered more towards the needs of neurotypical people.

What would make school better for you?

Something that would make school better is if certain classes were made up of people who learned similarly, so the teacher could teach them all the same way instead of the students who have difficulties, struggling to learn. I think when teachers see all of us as unique, they can help us learn to our own unique abilities.

How do your teachers treat you?

A lot of them treat me really well, as if I was a regular student, but that's expected from the teachers. They treat you as if you're human, just another one in the crowd, not as an individual. I think they try but need more help.

How do the kids treat you?

Well, bullying is often a problem, and I've had to deal with it for most of my life. There were a few years that they didn't and those were the best years because I didn't have to worry about people picking on me or insulting me for the things I did, liked, or how I acted. That was nice.

Why do you think the kids bully you?

Because I'm different. I'm unique, I'm odd. They don't like that. They'd rather I be the same as them. They are their own definition of perfect. They like people that are like them, not people that are different. It's just the way things seem to be.

Do the kids know you have Autism?

No, they don't because I feel if I told them it would only worsen the bullying.

Why?

In our school, there are kids that are lower functioning kids with Autism. They go to a resource room in our school. The kids call them retards. It's incredibly offensive. Rather than telling anyone, I'd rather they just bully me for being a nerd, a kid with quirks.

Do you think the kids know what it means to have ASD?

Nope, and I don't think they ever will unless someone sat down with them for an hour and a half and tried to explain it to them. I don't think they could fully grasp how difficult it is to function in their environment. I don't know if it would make any difference for them to learn, except that they may avoid me after thinking they could catch it or something. They are pretty narrow-minded.

Do you have friends?

Yeah, a few. They are pretty unique and quirky as I am. We have common interests and love to talk strategy. I think all of us are gifted with Autism, but we'd never say it out loud. We are a great group. It's funny, we are completely socially capable amongst each other, but not so much with normal kids. We get it. We are allowed to be ourselves, and that's so cool. It makes life easier.

What's your favorite subject?

My favorite are any of the shop type subjects. I love to learn with my hands, build things, create things. Next semester I'm taking a introduction to trades. I can't wait to see all the different cool trades that are available to me.

Do you think you will want to learn a trade?

Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what the interest level is. At this point I can't really see it, but you never know.

What would you like to do?

It differs depending on the day. Some days it's graphic design, other days I'd like to do coding. It really depends. With the way school works it looks like I may end up being a farmer, or a waiter. School isn't the best judge of a person's talent or abilities.

If you could do anything, what would it be?

I'd like to do many things. Maybe I will learn to be a jack of all trades and a master at many, so I never get bored doing my work. I think anything with gaming and the arts would ultimately be the goal. Let me design and play games, and I'm good to go. The digital arts appeal to me, and I'm great at creating. I think it would be a great fit.

If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?

I am not Autistic. I have a name. I have Autism. It does not define me. It's part of who I am, just like the color of my hair. I had no control over having Autism, neither did my parents. I am not sick, and Autism is not contagious. Maybe I'm weird or different to you, but you're very different to me too. There are still things I don't understand, like facial expressions, or when people are making fun of me with sarcasm. I think they are being friendly. At some point, my brain will recognize the difference, and I've come a very long way.. I just want people to have some compassion and understanding, not because I have Autism, but because everyone has something different about them, that they also have no control over. It's not worth fear or anxiety. It is what it is, and I'm ok with it.

This young man shared something with us that we'd like to share with you. It's a poem he wrote for an English class that he felt described him. Sometimes, most of the time, our children with Autism will be our greatest teachers!

The Adventurer

I am a hiker and an adventurer
I wonder how the trees grow to be as tall as they are
I hear birds chirping throughout the woods
I see flowers blooming in the spring
I want Earth to go back to its former state of being
I am a hiker and an adventurer

I pretend that the forest is my kingdom
I feel the trees and the moss growing on the side of them
I touch the petals of the freshly bloomed flowers
I worry that we may kill the planet
I cry about the way we treat our home
I am a hiker and an adventurer

I understand the way that the sunflower grows
I say the forest has a mind of its own
I dream for a better tomorrow
I try to hide my sorrow
I hope I make it around the sun, at least until my time has come
I am a hiker and an adventurer

Well in some ways I’m different, but different is sometimes better. It allows me a different way of thinking about things and gives me a different perspective. I can get over obstacles others may not be able to accomplish.

 

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