Sunday, February 24, 2019

33, New Jersey

My biggest support is My mom. She put so much time and energy into figuring out what my needs where and how to provide the help I needed. My earliest memories were of her putting me in front of a mirror and asking me questions. She noticed one day, after giving me a bath, that despite not looking at her face, I would look at the reflection of her face in the mirror. She noticed that I was more willing to answer her questions about my day at the special school if I was talking to her reflection instead of her. She gradually had me work my way to looking at her mouth as she spoke.

Before that, my mom caught my sister hitting me in the head with a pillow. When she yelled at her about it, my sister said "but he likes it." She did it again only for my mom to notice I was laughing hysterically. This how my mom figured out how to get me to say my first sentence. She would say "Ready, Set, Go!" and bop me in the head with a pillow. After a while, she wouldn't bop me until I said "Go!" Then, I had to say "Set, Go!" Eventually, my first sentence was "Ready, Set, Go!"

Some of my friends to this day notice I sometimes smile at them when we are sparring and I take a couple hits.

I'd have to say all the teachers who went out of there way to put things in perspective for me when I couldn't figure certain things out on my own. Despite knowing my diagnosis, they never told me that they knew. It was just implied that I struggled.

I went to a special school from the time I was 2 until I was ready for kindergarten. I just thought that was preschool, but I was among other kids with autism. In retrospect, I'm surprised how different we all were. Too many times, people with the same label are stereotyped in a way that creates a rigid mental image. Being exposed to the shear diversity of people on the spectrum kept me from understanding what my limitations were. Had I knew what limitations to expect, I don't think I'd push my limits the way that I have.

About my past:
6. Most babies cry to be held and look at other peoples faces. I didn't. Most babies relax when they are being held. I didn't.

I could spend hours alone, playing with the same toy without a care in the world. I would put my ninja turtle figurines on their backs and spin them for hours.

When I was old enough to talk, I just wouldn't. I went out of my way to avoid saying anything. It got to a point where I wouldn't be fed unless I asked for food. This meant being left in a play pen while everyone was eating dinner, and not being allowed to sit and eat at the table until I asked.

I was diagnosed when I was about a year and a half old. My parents didn't want me finding out about my diagnosis until I was ready. I was even mainstreamed at kindergarten, so they could tell me the special school I went to was preschool.

They were hoping that they could wait until I was at least a teenager to tell me about it. Thing is, I had a subscription to Nintendo power, and checked the mail regularly for every issue. Well, I acted as though I was looking for Nintendo Power when I was actually trying to intercept a bad report card. The letter said it was from my school, so I thought that was the report card. Turned out to be a letter about my IEP. That's the first time I ever recall seeing/hearing the word "autism." It was right under diagnosis.

I had no idea what to think. I asked my sister what autism is. She just said it's this thing that made me do all these other wierd things. I still didn't know what to think. I kept quiet about it for a couple weeks since I didn't want my parents to know I was trying to stop them from seeing a bad report card. I waited until the summer to ask them what it was, and I forget what exactly they said, but I felt like they were lying. It seemed like they were trying to spin it into something more positive, but I was getting progressively more aware of how I'm different from the other kids.

Nowadays, I'm still confused about how it really affects me. I feel like obsessive behavior has played a big role in my getting a college degree as well as my third degree black belt.

that same obsessive behavior has lead me to meeting a lot of people, mostly NTs, who have similar interests. Some of my best friends, I wouldn't have met them at all if I didn't obsess over things.

When I first hear of my diagnosis, I wanted to know more, but I didn't know who or where to turn to.

When I was in college, I had to do research projects which was a good excuse to learn more about autism. Some of the things I read, I almost immediately dismissed as folklore. This includes the ice mother theory. Facial ticks I denied, but then found out I had them...

Problems with loud noises and loud environments, I didn't want to believe either, but my parents pointed out incidents when I was 4 or 5. I remember being in Spain, falling asleep while watching clog dancing, so I must have gotten over it before I was 6 years old. I definitely didn't have any problems with rock shows or mosh pits when I was a teen.

Well, I was diagnosed and treated at an early age, so I don't think I can say yes to having hardships getting diagnosed . My parents and teachers were very new to the idea of autism at the time, so their reaction to me had much more to do with me as an individual than me as someone with autism. I tend to wonder how things would have played out had the general public been more knowledgeable of autism when I was a kid.

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