Sunday, December 18, 2011

What is Autism, by my Son with Asperger's

My 12 year old son who has Asperger's syndrome has a friend coming over today! Only my friends raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder can understand why this is so freakin' exciting for me - and him. His friend has Asperger's as well and his mom and I sometimes call them "brothers from another mother" LOL They met this year in their self-contained classroom and immediately hit it off. Today is the first time they are spending time together at one of our homes.

Last night I shared on Twitter and Facebook that my son asked for a tux to wear today. "I need to look my best. It's an important day!" I bounced between wanting to laugh and wanting to cry. The fact that he sees having someone come play with him as an event worthy of wearing a tuxedo breaks my heart.

Anyway, this morning as I was convincing him that "regular" clothes would be absolutely fine to wear I began thinking about the piece he wrote (ok, he dictated with me serving as the writer) that was read to the entire sixth grade at his middle school at the peer awareness session held during Autism Awareness week last year. His teacher and I barely held our tears in as it was read, we were so proud of him! Today, I wanted to share HIS view of having an autism spectrum disorder with you. 

This is Christopher's 'What is Autism' piece written for his teachers and peers. I am so, so proud of him! 

Autism is a challenge. On the outside I look and seem like a normal person, but sometimes I have severe emotions. Sometimes I get angrier than I should. When I feel overwhelmed I might run away or hide from the problems. I mean that literally! (That doesn’t mean I am a wuss!) Sometimes I am inappropriate, but I don’t mean to be. I sometimes don’t know what I said or did was inappropriate until you tell me.

Sometimes I learn things way faster than other people and sometimes it takes me longer to learn stuff than other people. I do NOT like working in groups! I like to do things solo.
I have an above 10th grade reading level – I LOVE reading!!! I have a huge vocabulary and I like to talk, A LOT. I can spell almost anything. I hate writing anything that is long, like a paragraph. I type my assignments when they are long.

I have habits that hinder me. I squint my eyes even though I don’t need to – it’s hard for me to remember not to do that. I always have to put my left foot down the stairs first. If I don’t I have to go to the top of the stairs and start back down again.

I take things you say very literally most of the time. I am working on not taking everything so literally. I am new to the world of sarcasm but I understand sarcasm more often now.

I don’t have many friends and I stink at making friends. I’m relatively good at keeping them when I have one. I currently have 4 friends. I like being noticed and sometimes I act weird. I do that on purpose to try and make friends.

I want to have more friends. I don’t like it when you criticize or tease me. It makes me feel bad when you pick on me. Having autism doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings just like you. I am like you in a lot of other ways too. I hope this helps you understand me better.

Footnote: Autism is not contagious. Thou art not at risk of catching it.

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