Before Autism Awareness Month draws to a close, I wanted to open my blog to the voice of someone who is living with autism. I am a mother of a child with autism, but I do not have autism myself, and so I rely on talking to people like Clara to open my mind to how the world looks from that other perspective. Clara is not only a very kind and beautiful friend, she is also a talented artist – the art at the end of the post is by her. Without further ado, I now pass this post over to her to share her message:
Greetings, awesome people of awesomeness! ^_^
My name is Clara, I am nineteen years old, and I have a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome, which is on a high functioning part of the spectrum. Linda has kindly allowed me to ninja her blog for a post to talk to you guys, which is awesome and lovely of her, so I am going to try and tell you guys about my life as an adult with autism. (Well, mostly adult.) 😀
Unlike many children, although I displayed “symptoms” of autism through my childhood (such as learning to walk late, and hitting my head on the wall because I was angry) I was not diagnosed until I was fourteen.
My mum says that through my childhood years, I watched people carefully and learned from their behaviour and used it as my own. I have what she calls a “party face” – a learned set of behaviour that I used when interacting with people that I wasn’t comfortable with or didn’t know well. This would involve learned responses and lots of nodding and smiling. My Nan used to say the word ‘damn’ a lot. One day when I was around 5 or 6, when I was just leaving her house, I randomly came out with, “I can’t find my damn shoe!” And everyone laughed and asked where I learned that word, and I had no idea why because it was just another vocabulary word! So I went and hid upstairs because I was embarrassed. It’s rather funny to remember now though! 😀
When I started Secondary/high school at age 11, I ran into a lot of difficulties that nobody, myself included, understood. I hated being there – there were swarms of people, and everybody expected me to know where I was going and what I was doing and what to say.
I recall an incident that happened when I was around 12 – our school was very strict on uniform, and I was always a very good girl, never breaking rules on purpose. One day I arrived at school late because I had been upset about going, and had forgotten to tuck my shirt in. I only realised when I got to the top of the first flight of stairs and ran into a rather strict teacher, who was incredibly brash with me, and told me to go back down the stairs and wait for her there.
I went back down, shaking like a leaf, and sat at the bottom of the stairs, and waited, and waited, and waited. The registration bell rang and I was still waiting and shaking, because I didn’t know what else to do. My friends came down from registration and found me sitting there shaking and told me to come to my lesson with them but I couldn’t because the teacher had told me to wait.
The teacher never showed up, and so I had to leave and go to my lesson. For months after that incident I lived in fear, terrified that I was going to run into that teacher again and she would confront me. When I was by myself, I would run between my destinations so as to avoid any confrontation from anyone. Other students found this funny, as I was a rather chubby girl who looked rather silly running, especially with my pigtails and glasses and top button done up.
Eventually I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder, and was taken out of school to do one hour a day at home with a tutor. I was shortly after that diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. I managed to get myself four basic certificates, which is awesome ^_^
My mum was the only one who really understood my mind during these years. So many other people, family members, professionals, school authority, said that I was just being an awkward and difficult teenager. Although many of my teenage years were extremely sad times, for me and for the people around me, I was never happier when the day came for me to leave school for good. ^_^
Since leaving school, I have had the freedom to learn about the world, about people and about myself. I am happier than I have ever been, and although I have my wobbly days, I for the most part am happy, and bouncy and full of love for the world around me. 😀 I have a wonderful boyfriend who I met online (In World of Warcraft, which I adore!) Who supports me in all my endeavours and kicks the butts of the people who are not nice to me. I have met him once in real life (he lives 300 miles away) – and that was the most amazing day ever. 😀 I have made many friends online – through World of Warcraft and also through Second Life. I love cats, things that are pink, cupcakes, cookies, rainbows, soft things, drawing, making things and cuddles and kisses. ^_^
Although it would take me about 50 hundred thousand blog posts to explain my story properly, I would like to assure those out there who have autism or those out there with children with autism that you aren’t alone. I wish that I could help all of you through your struggles.
But if there was one thing I could change about my younger years, it would be awareness. Awareness for the family members and “professionals” and school staff that considered me to be difficult and badly brought up and just throwing a temper tantrum to get my way. Awareness for the girls at school who laughed at me because I was awkward and shy and tripped over my own feet. Awareness for the teacher that left me waiting for 2 hours on the stairs.
I would love to send all the hugs in the world ever to the wonderful people who are a part of my life now, my on-line friends and my real life friends and my lovely male friend, but most of all to my mum, who has been there through it all and never gave up on me, even when i was at my worst. I know she has been deeply affected by the events of my teenage years and I just want her to know that I love her.
So the best I can do is to say to you guys, spread the awareness! 😀 Just as Linda is doing with her amazing blog, just as I have tried to do with this extended essay of a post. Help people to understand and the world will be a much more sparkly place. 😀
Unfortunately there will always be the people who are stubborn, rude and ignorant. And for that I have a solution:
Imagine them stuck on the toilet unable to go for a poo.
Thankyou for reading 😀