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Locked Inside: A View into the World of Autism

December 9, 2010 29 comments

This is a guest post by Michael Nunnelee, a 23-year-old with high functioning autism. Michael is a college student, currently working on a double major in Marketing and Management.

Imagine being locked away in a prison that you cannot see or touch. Imagine hearing people talk to you, but not truly being able to listen. Think about the daily comforts of routine you take for granted and imagine it being an obsession, think of how frightening it is to hear words like change, different, and out of order. You are on the inside looking outward at those trying to free you from this seemingly inescapable prison of the mind, and in order to break the invisible shackles and dissolve the hidden bars, you have to learn to rely on those you can’t communicate with.

My name is Michael Nunnelee, I am 23 years old, I have a certificate in audio engineering and I am currently working a double major in Marketing and Management. I have been in 2 bands and played successful concerts and booked a concert for a Seattle band in Spokane. I have been in advanced leadership roles throughout my high school career and also a camp counselor for a leadership camp. I seem to lead a somewhat normal life, but here is the catch: I was diagnosed with classic infantile autism when I was 2 years old. My mother was told by a specialist at a Children’s Hospital in Seattle that I would probably never speak much and might end up in a group home setting. My diagnosis was later changed to high functioning autism when I was about 7 years of age.

As a child I was a prisoner of my own mind. My siblings and parents would try and communicate with me and I wouldn’t be able to communicate back. I wanted to so badly say what I was feeling, doing, and wanting to do. No matter how hard I tried and how much I desired, I could not. I was not supposed to carry out a normal life. Despite those who didn’t think I could do it, I overcame my prison and broke out many years ago.

I couldn’t have done it without my wonderful siblings who did their best to work with me, my mom who never gave up on me even when all seemed lost, and my teachers. Without their guidance and knowledge of my condition and how to improvise, I would have been lost to the depths of a bitter darkness that has no name, face, or feeling. This is in no way a means to communicate a hopeless tone or to hold my own accomplishments above anyone, this is a message of hope. I managed to overcome multiple trials and tribulations because of early intervention and undiminished will.

In some instances, it is possible to help your loved ones overcome this trial. I do not look at what I went through as a curse, but rather a blessing. A blessing that taught me that perseverance, drive, and the will to never give up are virtues that will guide me through this life. Dealing with autism has prepared me for many of life’s struggles. Even though I will face many more, I will hold my head up high and not be afraid because I have overcome a great challenge and I am willing to face many more.

Remember, autism is not exactly like what you see in popular film; there are many different forms. Some of it can be debilitating, while others have symptoms that can easily go unnoticed in daily life, and many are able to live normal lives. If you have a loved one going through autism, it is never too late to help them. The best way you can do that, besides special instructors or adaptations to learning styles, is to reassure them that you love them with all of your heart and soul.  After all love is something that everybody needs regardless of physical, mental, or emotional limitations.

Family Services provides resources and information. If you have a question, contact the Autism Response Team today. If you’re concerned that your child may be affected with autism or if you’ve received a diagnosis, browse the Tools for Families section, where you’ll find our 100 Day Kit, and the Autism Video Glossary. If you’d like to do a quick search for service providers near you, select Find a Local Resource and browse the Resource Guide.

TUNE IN at 2:30 on TRU TV’s IN SESSION

December 9, 2010 1 comment

Autism Speaks Science Board member John Elder Robison will be appearing live on TRU TV’s IN SESSION, coverage of the Odgren murder trial at 2:20 EST today.  John will be talking about autism and its role in random violence.  This is an unusual case because there was no bullying, and the killer did not even know his victim. Find out what really happened at Lincoln Sudbury High School; how Asperger’s may influenced the killer, and why, this afternoon.

Autism in the News – Thursday, 12.09.10

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Children With Autism Improve After Taking Group-Based Program Focusing on Social Development, Researchers Say (WebMD)
A six-month, group-based early intervention program with a special emphasis on social development can improve some of the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder in children as young as 2, according to a study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Read more.

Autism Speaks Funded Bullying Program Featured on CNN (TVEyes)
The study Autism Speaks is paying for a study, they want to get the empirical evidence that kids on the Autism spectrum are more likely to be bullied. but everybody whose trying to help these kids says it does happen more. Read more.

Sensitive Santa provides seasonal sensation for children with autism (ABC Newspapers)
Shane Sullivan appeared uncertain about sitting on Santa’s lap. After a quiet greeting from Mrs. Claus, the 12-year-old boy examined a poster of suggested seating arrangements, then cautiously stepped toward the jolly old elf. Read more.

Autism could be detected objectively (The Daily Utah Chronicle)
Students are collaborating with members of Harvard University Medical School to extend their practices and advance cures to further develop autism testing. Read more.

Autism services to be reformed (UK)
Autistic people will see services brought into the mainstream by changes to the way they are treated, it has been claimed. Read more.

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