Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Confession in Honor of the World Autism Awareness Day

Beth Hiatt, 13, is the co-editor of her school’s magazine, and she recently wrote an article called “Let’sTalk About Autism” for the publication explaining how autism affects her daily life — and how she hopes to change the public’s perception of people on the spectrum.

I, too, have autism. And I’m not ashamed to admit that. Mine is the high functioning variety also known as Asperger’s Syndrome, just like Beth Hyatt, the 13-year old girl who wrote the article “Let’s Talk About Autism.” Although not two autistics are alike, there are certain similarities between Beth and myself. Like her, I, too, suffered from a variety of physical symptoms associated with autism. For instance, I, too, couldn’t stand the labels on my shirts and blouses, and chose to tear them all off. For many years and until my late teens, I had occasions when I could hear the blood coursing through my veins, and it drove me crazy. I also had low tolerance for certain smells which seemed too pungent to me, even as others around me seemed to be unaware of them. For long I walked in a strange robotic way. And I suffered sensory overload in class. For many years, the only way I could handle this was to phase out and daydream. But, in time, I learned to focus intently on the teacher as an alternative. In college, I always sought to sit in the front row in order to make it easier for me to do so.

In time, most of these physical symptoms gradually disappeared: I rarely hear the sound of my own blood, and I don’t tear off my shirts’ labels anymore. But my isolationist tendencies and the awkward nature of my social interactions have returned with a vengeance. This is why I seldom leave home these days, and have drastically cut down on my media appearances, as many people have noticed. There is no way to shake this thing off. The solution is simply to seek the establishment of a new balance. This is currently happening, albeit all too slowly.

One final similarity between my case and Beth’s is that both of us seem to have chosen writing as our favorite mode of communications.