Monday, November 18, 2013

my story is my story alone

Written by Sami

So I’m sitting here trying to write a contribution for the “This is Autism” flashblog, and I honestly don’t know what to say. I can’t really think of a single, specific attribute or story that simply is autism.

Dr. Stephen Shore, an Autistic autism researcher and professor at Aldelphi University, once said, “If you meet one person with autism, you've met one person with autism." Each and every Autistic person is unique. We all have different experiences, backgrounds, interests, struggles, strengths, mannerisms, personalities, etc. We’re individuals, we’re human, and we’re not all cut from the same Autistic mold.

I was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder when I was three. As a child, my speech development regressed and I developed echolalia, or repetitive speech. I had some very odd issues with certain foods, noises, textures, smells, and other sensory stimulations. Some of those sensitivities still remain to this day, but I’ve learned healthy ways to cope with them. I also find various social situations to be pretty difficult at times, but I’ve once again learned various ways to move through them over the years.

However, contrary to what some organizations may tell you, autism is not a tragedy, and neither am I. Actually, my autism can be pretty great. It helps me see the world in a way that very few others can. Sure, little things that might not bother anyone else can really get to me at times. But I can also thoroughly enjoy things that many other people might not care about or even notice in the first place. For example, a certain flavor, texture, or other sensation that many people might view with indifference can make me SO happy at times. Honestly, I could go on for quite a while about the positive ways my autism has affected my life, but there are so many other voices out there with stories to tell that I don’t want to ramble too much. Basically, the positives of my autism more than outweigh the negatives, and even if there was a cure for autism I wouldn’t consider taking it for a minute.

So there. I don’t really have a particular anecdote to share that I can honestly title “This is Autism.” I mean, yes, plenty of the aspects of my autism that I just described are seen in many other Autistic people around the world. However, I can still just offer one perspective on what it’s like to be on the spectrum. In essence, my story is my story alone.

And I’ll be damned if I sit back and let a group that wishes I didn’t exist tell it for me.

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