In Their Own Words – I Have Autism
I have autism. I hold only a few similarities to the character in “Rain Man.” When I am out on the playground, never say to my mother, “I would have never guessed that; he looks so normal” The face of autism is not a defined one.
I have autism. This does not mean I am deaf, nor does it mean I can’t understand your words. When cruel things are said, it hurts just like it would anyone else. Sometimes even more, as I am very sensitive.
I have autism. I am not blind. When you stare at me, point, and whisper – I don’t like it. I sometimes cannot control my emotions; however, I still can see you.
I have autism. I am not spoiled, undisciplined, or disrespectful intentionally. Don’t tell my parents I just need to be smacked, as that would never work and I smack back! All I know is if I am being hurt I must defend myself.
I have autism. This does not mean I am mentally delayed. I am very smart. I may focus on only a few things, but I have become an expert on them.
I have autism. Don’t think I am not capable of love or am emotionally detached from the world around me. I am very close to my family and sometimes need to be hugged. I do have the capacity to care. Especially if I see someone else being hurt or teased.
I have autism. I will line things up on the floor in my room in perfect order. This may be strange, but to me it is contentment. I can only relax if things are in sync.
I have autism. Which means I am supersensitive to sounds; I hear all of them. Even the smallest of sounds. When I get overloaded with too many sounds at once, It is hard to cope and I must step away and be alone. This does not mean I can’t handle the world, I just have to have more time to tune out as I hear more than everyone.
I have autism. I live by schedules. This is one of the ways I have found to cope with the chaos around me. Knowing what is going to happen at a certain time each day helps me prepare for transitions. That is why it is difficult for me to deal with a schedule change. I have to have order to obtain peace.
I have autism. It is very important for people to mean what they say That is why joking with me is never understood. Things are black and white to me, like a set schedule. If you say you are going to turn blue in five minutes, I expect you to do so.
So remember, having autism does not mean I am blind, retarded, unresponsive, incapable of love, or unable to function in the real world. I am unique and gifted because I have found a way to coexist within two very separate worlds. Take a moment to think about how many of us have difficulty within just the one world we live, now imagine juggling two. This is something I have learned to do. So forgive me if at times I have trouble separating the two, again I am only human.
I often hear people say to my mom, “It must be so hard for you” – no one ever says that to me. In fact, no one expects me to understand or respond because of the face society has painted autism to be. I do not know all that autism is, but I know who I am. I am special, and cherished. Almost like a superhero I was set aside to have these unique abilities. They are not a disability. They are not something to fear. In a way they are magical. I have unlocked parts of my brain that others cannot.
When you look at me, don’t look at me with sadness or feel sorry for me. Look at me with wonderment and I will amaze you every time.
This “In Their Own Words” essay is written by Tonya Procor, a loving mother of a son with autism.
If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.