Autism Can’t Define Me. I Define Autism.

My Personal Story of Living with Autism

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Autism affects more than 1 in 100 people. Autism is a developmental disorder of variable severity that is characterized by difficulty in social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thought and behavior. Just about every year, the month of April is recognized as “Autism Awareness Month.” Autism does not make an individual an outcast and sadly, so many people out there in the world treat others who have been affected with autism are treated like an outcast.

I know what that kind of lifestyle is like because I myself have been diagnosed with autism at the age of seven. There are three different kinds of autism disorders. First, there is Autistic Disorder, which is often called “classic autism.” This is what most people think of when hearing the word autism. The second type of autism is Asperger Syndrome, which is a developmental disorder affecting the ability to effectively socialize and communicate. The third type is Pervasive Developmental Disorder. The type of autism I have been diagnosed with is Asperger Syndrome.

Growing up with this disorder was very difficult. I was in second grade when I got diagnosed and almost instantly I got treated differently because of this disorder that had seemed to take over my life. It was almost impossible for me to communicate and socialize with other people. Luckily, I had my twin sister to guide me through most of the mess I received from fellow classmates. My autism was obviously and easily seen by others, especially when I had an episode and became very upset about something so minute. Going through elementary school and junior high school was not so easy.

To learn how to control my episodes, and most importantly learn how to control myself, I had to attend these so-called therapy sessions with a trained specialist. Some specialists even made house visits to help me. At first, I did not like these sessions at all and found them to be odd. But after time, probably about a timespan of almost five years, I had these weekly sessions with specialists to help me control my episodes. People who do not fully understand what it is like to either live with autism or know a friend/family member who has autism have no idea what the struggles are for that individual. Simple tasks for a normal individual are easy while that same simple task may be difficult for someone who has autism. For example, learning how to tie shoe laces may seem easy, but for me it was very very difficult. When I could not tie the laces, I became upset and threw a tantrum. I did not learn how to tie shoe laces until the age of thirteen while my sisters knew how to tie shoe laces since they were probably six or seven years old.

Now being a young adult, I find myself successful. It is much easier to socialize and communicate with others than it was when I was eight years old. Most tasks seem easy to me now. I am now capable to tie my shoes with ease. I thought all those sessions I went through growing up was useless, but turns out, they were useful. I will live with autism for the rest of my life and I am here to embrace it and embrace others who have also been diagnosed with autism.

I now find April to be my favorite month of the year. World Autism Day is an internationally recognized day on April 2ndevery year, encouraging Member States of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about people with autism spectrum disorders throughout the world. Every year on April 2nd, people around the world are encouraged to wear the color blue. Blue has been recognized as the color for autism awareness. The coined phrase “Light it up Blue” has gone viral over the years to make people aware of autism.

So yes, it has not been easy at all growing up with autism. For those who have been diagnosed with some form of autistic disorder, they are not any different than another person. People living with an autistic disorder are a little bit more unique, in a good way. But at the end of each day, I always find myself telling myself a favorite quote by Kerry Magro: “Autism can’t define me. I define autism.”

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