The month of April is best known for the explosion of Easter Bunnies, obscene amounts of chocolate as gifts for children and a magnificent feast to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. To many people April is Easter, they plan, they organise, many months in advance sometimes, Children have the time of their lives, gorging on chocolate, receiving gifts from extended family members, but to me, April is Autism Awareness month.
So to celebrate this, I am going to dedicate my blog for a whole month to families who wish to share their Autism Journey with you.
Some of these people have autism themselves, some are autistic parents to autistic children. We have teachers with autistic students and even Bloggers who want share their journey with me, which I am very grateful for.
A couple of years ago, my son Edward who was aged 13 at the time had a piece of English homework where he had to write a side of A4 about himself. I literally did a victory air punch when I read it and I think you will see why… here it is.
Autism In My Own Words
“I have a condition called Autism. It affects my behaviour, and makes me less social but more focused.
When I was born my grandparents thought that I had learning difficulties, because I would stare into space and ignore people.
When I was two the first evidence that my grandparents were wrong emerged when my mother took me round to her friends house and left me in the living room. She came back later and was amazed because I had finished a fifty piece jigsaw all by myself. I do not know how impressive that is but my mother was amazed.
(in case you are worried, for the record I did not leave him on his own)
Dinosaurs, over the next few years, were my special interest. An autistic person will always have a special interest, something that they love and have great knowledge about. That does not mean that it’s forever, it can change, but it is very important to them. My special interest was dinosaurs but occasionally I was distracted by other things, such as mushrooms or moose.
Primary school for me was a miserable experience. Throughout the first five years of school, I was bullied. At least in part because I had a condition called rhinitis, but I think that the fact that I was autistic also played a big part. One of the major advantages to being an autistic person is that extra focus that means that it is easier for us to become experts in art or science or maths.
However, this too transformed into a curse, because it meant that academically I was far ahead of the rest of my class. Being taught in primary school, I was incredibly bored and often complained that school was getting in the way of my real learning that I did at home, on the internet or by reading books. This is not as true now, but even still there are some subjects that I learn more about at home than at school, like history, and there are others that I could learn more about if I tried.
It was during primary school that I found out that I had autism. My parents took me to see some doctors who showed me pictures of people and I had to guess what they were feeling and thinking. After that they gave me some blocks, a ball and some other toys and I was told to tell a story using them, I told the longest story they had ever heard, that lasted half an hour, in the end they had to ask me to stop. The test was complete. I had autism.
Diagnosed, I didn’t feel dread or despair, I didn’t know what it meant.
(here comes the victory air punch bit)
Most people see autism as problem but I see it as a feature of personality. If there was a cure I would not take it…. because I would die and be replaced by another person inhabiting my body. It would not be me, but a less interesting version of me without my best and worst features.”