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Hi, my name is Olivia. I am 12 years old. I was born on July 14th, 2006. My grandmother died in 2004 of Breast Cancer. My mom got kidney cancer when I was about 4 and had to get surgery. At the end of the 4th grade, I got a cancerous tumor on the side of my knee. My dog, when I was in the third grade, got hit by a car and died. I have been in a dark place before in my life. I have ADHD, so I get certain things that help benefit my learning abilities and get a bus even though I’m only a couple of miles from the school. I have been diagnosed with OCD, although I don’t notice it.No, this report isn’t for pity. I honestly have a pretty good life. I have great friends and family. I’ve been to New York City. I’ve been to Florida and have gone to Universal Studios and Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see the famous dolphin, Winter, from Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2. I have a dog named Mina. I have two beautiful cats named Fella and Buddy. My older brother, Jakob, is in the army. I don’t need anyone's pity. And this isn't just to brag what good life I have, since my life is pretty mixed with both good and bad. This report is only to inform and teach. You will need some background information to understand why this report is even happening. Well, when I couldn’t find any sunshine in my life and fell into a depressive hole of toxicity, my mom had started therapy for me, so I could talk things out and help sort out my life. When I go to these therapy appointments, my mom and therapist touch base about what me and my therapist talked about. One day, my mom and therapist talked about how they saw certain characteristics of High Functioning Autism. One day, they tested for High Functioning Autism. And when the results came in, they were positive. I am an autistic teenager.
The Definition, Spectrum and more!
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is said to be a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life. And what some people seem like they don’t know, is that autism is a spectrum disorder. The spectrum autism is made up of mainly three different degrees of autism: High-Functioning Autism, Autism, and Low-Functioning Autism.
High-functioning autism is a term applied to people with autism who are deemed to be cognitively "higher functioning" than other people with autism (has an IQ of 70 or greater).
Autism impairs the ability to communicate and interact.
Low-functioning autism refers to autistic people with cognitive (the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.) impairments. Symptoms may include impaired social communications or interactions, bizarre behavior, and lack of social or emotional reciprocity (learning to relate to others involves engaging in the give and take of relationships)
The mutation that causes the autism is not present in the parental gene. So, doctors don’t know what causes autism. Autism is also pretty common. There are more than 200,000 US cases issued per year and 1 in 59 people are autistic. And autism is found more in males than females. One in four autistic people are of the female gender, making the amount of autistic females slim.
Now, the range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. Common symptoms can include difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors. Repetitive behaviors can include repetitive body movements such as: rocking, flapping, spinning, running back and forth, and more. They also might misread situations and respond with emotions that are off the mark.
I asked some autistic people to share their experience plus people who have autistic people in their lives and what their experience with autism is.
My father, who is also autistic, said that he experiences different symptoms of autism. He said he can’t read social cues sometimes and says inappropriate comments. He also says he doesn’t think he has any boundaries stopping him from doing anything. If he wanted to be a singer, then he doesn't think autism can stop him from achieving that dream.
My Aunt Amanda, who has a son that is autistic, said that since autism is more common than it used to be, they had been fortunate enough to have the resources they needed to guide them on their journey. Every step they took they couldn’t have succeeded without some help through research, support groups and programs available in their area. Without the love and support from his teachers, therapists and friends, they wouldn’t have made it this far. For them, every step in the development was an obstacle. From the beginning, language was the biggest obstacle they had to face. They tried pictures and sign language as a form of communication. It was a struggle, but at 5 years old he had a breakthrough. When he began learning the alphabet with zoo phonics in Kindergarten, he just opened up and started vocalizing these new sounds until words started forming. Now, at 10 years old he has an extensive vocabulary and it is hard to notice that he even had a struggle with talking. She says has learned a great deal through the 10 years of experience she has had. She has learned that patience is everything. Just when you think you might not be able to make it through, a little patience goes a long way. Each day is different and even when things are tough, it will get better. When you love your child unconditionally, it all just seems as natural as breathing and that she’d never change her experiences for anything, no matter how challenging it may get.
My mother said she had to face two major obstacles in the 12 years I’ve been alive and breathing. One being Developmental Delays and the other being Social Delays. She said in her experience she has learned the different courses of actions and how to make sure the school system is right for the way of learning I need.
My grandmother said her experience was confusing because children with autism have different needs than most of her other grandchildren and children. And that it’s not exhausting, just takes a time consuming strategy and is kind of similar to a race with pit stops along the way. What she learned was that pictures say more than words because an autistic child can understand and breakdown pictures easier than they can with words, in her experience with three autistic grandchildren.
Now I also did some research and found a bunch of results of celebrities that are autistic and some have been speculated to have autism. But, to keep this shorter than longer, I’m only listing 3.
Albert Einstein: He was one of the most famous mathematicians and scientists in history. Albert Einstein had a number of interesting and possibly telling characteristics. For one, he had trouble socializing, especially as an adult. As a child, he experienced severe speech delays and later echolalia (the habit of repeating sentences to himself). And of course, there is the fact that Einstein was incredibly technical. Such characteristics have led many experts to conclude that he appeared somewhere on the autism spectrum.
Daryl Hannah: She is a famous actor in multiple movies such as Splash, Blade Runner, and Steel Magnolias. She only came out about her experiences on the autism spectrum about five years ago. Since then, Hannah has been nothing but inspirational as she’s told the honest truth about her challenges with Asperger’s Syndrome. As a child, she rocked herself to self-soothe, and was so shy that once she began acting she refused to give interviews or even attend her own premieres. Though she has mostly learned to control and live with her diagnosis, Hannah has all but left the entertainment industry to focus on environmental issues and other passions.
Steve Jobs: He was the chairman, chief executive officer (CEO), and co-founder of Apple Inc. He is only speculated to have autism, but those who believe Jobs landed somewhere on the spectrum cite was because of his behavioral quirks as his obsession with perfection, his unorthodox ways of thinking, and his general lack of empathy when dealing with others.
Everyone who has autism has a different experience. And this is mine:
A baby of 12 months typically says one or two words, although only her parents may recognize them. By 18 months, the average baby says between five and 20 words. Me, I could say zero words. My mom got me a therapist, and the therapist taught me the way of communication that I would use for a bit; sign language. The way I learned my ABC’s was through Sesame Street before my mom even knew I had learned it. As my grandmother said: “Pictures say more than words”. Since I was staring at a screen and seeing the letters, I actually learned them. Now if I was told the alphabet, I wouldn’t have learned as quickly as I did in that time, because autistic people break down pictures faster and better than words. Another thing I’ve had to experience throughout my journey of almost 13 years of autism happened in both Kindergarten and Sixth Grade. In these two grades, I was an antisocial child to sum it up. I didn’t have the communication skills to make new friends. I didn’t know how. In kindergarten, my mom talked to my counselor. The counselor and my mom helped me make friends. For the next years in Elementary School, I made friends on my own. It was either luck or some type of strategy that I repeated without realizing you, I honestly don’t know which one it was. Then, in sixth grade, it happened again. My mind had totally blanked. I wasn’t aware of how to make friends and I had developed major anxiety. So, I was doomed in this situation. My mom, once again, had to talk to the counselor, Ms.Cheatham. And it took a while before I became friends with one of my closest friends, Isys Springer. We had a falling out and she did move away but I still love her to death, because she helped me with a major problem that I had in sixth grade; making friends. So did Annabella Barnes. I also can take things very literally and make very offensive jokes, not meaning to. I bring up sensitive topics sometimes and don’t even realize it until the last second and I ruin really good relationships. There are times where I push people away. I often misread situations. I think people are mad at me when they don’t talk to me and in reality they just need a break from me. I often misread social cues. But I’m still a work in progress. I will always have to deal with the obstacles autism throws at me. And I have never and will never use autism as an excuse for my actions. For example, if I say an offensive joke; yes I didn’t realize how offensive it was because of my autism but I said the joke and autism didn’t force the joke to be said. It would be my action, and it would be my responsibility, not autism’s responsibility. Autism can be a struggle sometimes but autism is always going to be a part of me.
On that note...
Autism is not just some disability that makes the people who have it stupid. It ́s a disorder that can affect the behavior and social interaction of a person. No, autism can not be prevented. And there is no cure for autism, though you can get therapy and medication to help lower the amount of symptoms you have. There is also a huge rumor that people believe for some strange reason, that rumor being that children can get autism from the vaccines they are given. However, this is completely and utterly false. Studies have shown that there is no link between receiving vaccines and developing Autism. Autism is a developmental disorder because it starts to generally appear in the first two years of life, not because a vaccine was given to the child. It’s a disorder not a disease. And I would love to be able to embrace this thing people call a disorder because its a disorder that affects our brain and that shouldn't make us weird; it only makes us unique. Autism shouldn't and doesn't define a person, what so ever. And I will never let it define me. People act like Autism is a joke and something to make of, but this is my reality check for them. It's honestly not. It is something that does affect someone's life. The effects can be minor or it could be major, but it does affect those who do have the disorder in one way or another. Thank you for your patience.