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Autism Spectrum Disorders: How They Affected Me as A Sophomore In High School

Vincent Boling, Freedom Senior Contributor

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I would like to present autism spectrum disorders in a different way. I’m autistic myself but I’m one of the lucky ones in many ways because I am actually very good at academics and have very little in the way of Intellectual problems. Yes, I do have typical social problems and I also have some over sensitivities to things like noise and being touched. I wrote the following my Sophomore year while practicing writing essays. I am currently a successful senior this year who continues to do my best. I was brought up to never use or blame my disability for failing at something.

I’ve been an Honor Roll student throughout most of my school life. I’m not in any Academic Special Education classes although I do get extra help in Language Arts when I need it, mostly in writing. I have been “Mainstreamed” throughout my entire school life so far. That means I’ve been in regular classrooms with my normal, non-disabled peers since I started school. The only real Special Education Class I’m in is Social Skills II, if you even want to classify it as that. It is more of a class that helps me learn how to socially interact with people better. I also have Speech Therapy once or so a month because I do have problems with that.

ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in a nutshell with me:

Person: “Hi Vincent!” (Reaches out for a hug.)
Me: (Backs away from hug) “Transformers, I mean Pokemon! No Anime!
(Turns red, walks away frustrated and embarrassed. Starts’ crying, loses it, and has a meltdown.)
Person: I didn’t understand that at all, does he not like me? What did I do to be treated like that, I was just trying to be friendly?

You see, I do not have intellectual problems at all, my problems with ASD are sensory problems, language problems, and tactile problems.

1: I don’t like noise, and am very sensitive to it.
2: I don’t like being touched, although I really do want to be hugged and kissed like a good friend or boyfriend should be.
3: I don’t do well with expressing language, although I get straight A’s and B’s in Language Arts.
4: I don’t always speak well, and is why I try to say something with as few words as possible.
5: I do not write well, and is why I do everything in a word processor first, and then cut/copy/paste to school work and Facebook.

On the subject of bullying, I’ve had my share; some people do it and don’t even know they are doing it. It is usually because of their lack of knowledge about something, or ignorance I guess would be a better word for it. Normal teenagers will go crazy and get all emotional about things that offend them, or hurt their feelings at the drop of a pencil, regardless of how immaterial or subjective those things are. But if you ask most of them about something as common place as Autism Spectrum Disorders in their school, they all of a sudden turn stupid and don’t know how to act or behave about the subject or how insulting they are actually being without even realizing it.

Let me explain, Autism Spectrum Disorders affects approximately 1 out of every 8 people in varying degrees you have ever come in contact with during your entire school life so far. That is why it is called a Spectrum Disorder by the way. Some on the spectrum will never need any kind of help; some will figure things out for themselves, while others will need a lifetime of help and assistance.

People with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) do not always have diminished brain function. It will surprise you to learn most of us we have normal, even above normal intelligence and hate being treated like we are stupid. Likewise, we score normally or above normally on standardized intelligence tests. The problems we have are in social interaction, speech, and communicating for the most part. We do make our wishes known, but often in ways others may find hard to understand, or outright puzzling. For example, I like to use Anime Music Videos to express feelings and thoughts I simply cannot communicate by speaking or writing words without getting all frustrated and overwhelmed.

Many of us who are high functioning on the spectrum try to be advocates for others affected more severely by Autism Spectrum Disorders. We try to do this to give information on how to cope with the confusing world we find ourselves in, and help others do so as well. This is why I get upset when people at school say really stupid and rude things about their classmates who are on the Autism Spectrum, especially when that person is standing or sitting right by them in class or the hallways. Worse still are the ones that do the exact same thing, but by texting the same rude and inappropriate stuff on their idiot phones, tablets, and their notebooks. But seem to believe those same ASD people don’t know how to read what they are texting back and forth.

There are several simple rules in getting to know people who are affected by ASD. The ways that work best for me when interacting with my non-disabled peers are as follows:

1: Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means it affects every individual having it differently. There is no “One way” to get to know us. If one way didn’t seem to work, have patience and try another way until one clicks with the ASD individual you want to get to know. They will be far more grateful and responsive to you when they finally see the effort you took to reach them on their terms.

2: If you really like us, say so, even if you have to do it first, or make the first move. This goes for girls, boys, girlfriends, and boyfriends. Please stop expecting us to get social games and subtle hints, we do not understand them nor will we ever. Be direct, be nice, be sincere, don’t lie, and be concrete in how you do it because again, a lot of us don’t always understand facial expressions, subjectivity, non-verbal communications (e.g. body language,) and subtlety.

3: If we seem distracted, worried, or overwhelmed when you want to get to know us at first and we didn’t leave a good impression, it is normally because of the initial sensory overload we are experiencing, and not because we are rude or stupid. It takes time for us to get comfortable with you.

4: MOST OF ALL: Stop calling and treating me and my other ASD friends as if we are all intellectually disabled; because chances are, we are as smart as, if not smarter than you would ever think we could be.

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Autism Spectrum Disorders: How They Affected Me as A Sophomore In High School