This post was requested by my parents, especially my Mum in general. While I was growing up, I heard stories from them about other people with Autism giving literatures about their lives and how they struggle each day. My Mum then said to me I could write a post about and there it is: my life, as an Autistic young woman.
I was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder when I was two years old. I can’t remember the day the doctors told my Mum or the side affects before the diagnosis. Apparently, I had a lot of screaming fits, nasty temper tantrums and would often hit people. But it was mystery of how it started; the family believes my change came from the MMR vacation while others may say it was my birth. I was born a month prematurely after my Mum was sudden taken ill while extremely high blood pressure, but luckily we both survived.
I say, I believe in both cases because from the stories I heard from my parents, I think my Autism was really, really bad. I was also I sickly child and I was often ill (and still am, as an adult); it would take me forever to cover. The longest time it took me was nearly six months when I had whooping cough as a teen.
In both Primary and Secondary school, I found it really hard to socialise and co-operate with the other children. I did have a few friends, but most of them saw me in a different way. Mum said it was hard to find schools that’ll take on Autistic students; I realised this when we were looking for Secondary schools. To me, they might say, “Oh, there’s room for you come here”, or “You’re not good enough to join our school”. However, we did find schools that would accept me. Studying was really hard; half the time, I was in the classroom with my peers and the half was in “different rooms” where I would learn social skills and do spelling tests with learning support staff. I did mix and mingle with other students with Autism, Down’s Syndrome, etc. but the students in Secondary weren’t very co-operate.
Outside the classrooms, however, I was picked on and bullied a lot. Mostly by boys. I would often have habits by talking to myself, playing by myself and always being a jolly, happy child. This made a target for bullies. They called me names, laugh at me, poke my body (sometimes my private parts) and in one case, I was pushed hard against to a wall when someone saw me by myself near a stair landing. I was very vulnerable and because of this, I started to lose confidence in myself. I was also excluded by the popular kids, no matter how I tired to be polite. The only people I would say who I trusted and still do, are my family and teachers. I had a lot of nice teachers at school, even teachers who other students didn’t really like. However, there was this one teacher I had who was not nice towards children. I heard a story that she pushed a child in the school corridor one time, but she left before the summer holidays.
My parents saw this as a worrying thing, so they tired to make me feel better. As a child, I went to therapy sessions; speech, how to walk properly (I had really bad balance), went homoeopathic hospitals, had ultrasounds on my heart because I had difficulty doing physical running and I even brush therapy. I’m not joking on this one; for this session, I had someone stroking my hand palms with a paintbrush to make me feel calmer. To begin with, they were really ticklish so Mum and I called them “tickling brushes” and still do to this day. Most of the therapy sessions did help; when I was older, I began to feel more calmer and kinder.
But I still have a lot to learn. So far, I haven’t been able to travel by myself; as I need public transport to get me places. I still haven’t formed strong relationships with some of my peers. Today at Drama school, I still get picked on because other students want to give me three attention or for some other reason. One time, I got stalked by someone, who was just being nasty. That person scared me so bad that I hid and cried in a public lavatory. However, I’m starting to get a little bit better; I start to feel more confident about social situations. I try and see it as a learning curve.
Despite my difficulties, I have achieved many things in life including getting loads of certificates at both schools, including an Outstanding Contribution to School Life certificate, when my Secondary school celebrated a special anniversary; participating in the Special Olympics, did a regional swimming competition, and won three gold medals when I was only eight years old and of course, my every own blog. It’s a lot to achieve by; to be honest, I’m not proud with some of them but it has showed that anything is possible, even if I am Autistic. I would love to achieve more, such as passing my driving test, graduate University and travel the world. If anybody says it’s not possible, I would say to myself, “I’m going to prove your wrong”.
Being Autistic isn’t really easy and lots of people wouldn’t know today if I have Autism. I know others who I can see that they have Autism; some do things I feel uncomfortable about or have difficulty to co-operate by, but then I always forget that I was in the same position, a long time ago. I think people need to have patience with anyone who has Autism or any other disability because they may struggle in life and need to shown kindly, instead of being criticised all the time when a parent says you forget to wash up the dishes again or when a peer tells you off for getting something wrong in class when they know they’re not supposed too. We need to learn as a community that Autism isn’t a label or people who are different aren’t punching bags, invisible objects or strangers, they’re human beings and they need help from teachers, parents and friends.
Please take this really seriously, as there will more people with Autism in the future who will comer do an amazing things in their lifetime but they can’t do it alone because they need help from the people they love.
I will know leave you with a comment by Karen Kingsbury:
“But the Beast was a good person…the Prince looked on the outside the way the Beast was on the inside. Sometimes people couldn’t see the inside of the person unless they like the outside of a person. Because they hadn’t learned to hear the music yet.”