Autism from an autistic point of view

Quinton Whitestar, Reporter

Autism is formally known as Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. Autism affects brain development, social functionality, and behavior. Autism is in most cases caused by genetics, but it can be caused by prenatal difficulties like the umbilical cord getting wrapped around a neck. Autism has absolutely no relation to vaccines or immunizations. The leading cause of death in autistic children is drowning due to wandering or bolting. Autism also comes in all metaphorical shapes and sizes, this means that no two people with autism have the same problems/skills.

 

The two main indicators of autism are uncontrollable and repetitive behaviors as well as social difficulty. Uncontrollable and repetitive behaviors are things like rocking back and forth, tapping fingers, jumping up and down, and turning the head side to side. When questioned people with autism have said that it can help them calm down or they say that it’s sort of involuntary and they usually don’t even notice it. The social difficulty that comes with autism is extremely noticeable and often gets a few confused glances which in turn increase the social difficulty. The main focus of programs that help people with autism focuses on increasing their social capabilities. 

 

Raising an autistic child is a daunting task, one of the most difficult things for parents is the wandering or even the “bolting” that some autistic children do. You will also have to organize and monitor their education from kindergarten to graduation. This includes watching their grades, arranging meetings with the school district to change their education, getting them an appropriate education, and monitoring their social growth.

 

Now that you know a little bit about autism itself, here’s a few personal troubles of mine that I have had to deal with concerning the autistic spectrum. 

 

For as long as I can remember I have been heavily reliant on my mother because I was unable to talk to people on my own and needed an extra hand in order to complete social interactions. Most of the people I met usually chalked this up as me being “shy” or uninterested which hurt because I wanted to talk to people but I just couldn’t. I wasn’t nonverbal I just had trouble organizing thoughts into words. It was like traveling through a psychological labyrinth full of sticky traps and slippery paths. 

 

 People often labeled me as weird or strange because I would always be doing something with my hands like shaking them around, tapping any nearby surfaces, dragging them along walls, or spinning something like a wheel for an indefinite amount of time (usually until someone asked me to stop). It was really fun for me and it helped me to focus on things, that’s why I would fidget, but eventually, it became a habit and I still shake or tap my hands to this day.

 

Another issue I had was an awkward gait and the tendency to walk on ledges and curbs which usually resulted in me falling and scraping my knees. Walking was always weird because it felt like there was just slightly too much gravity and my feet just wanted to scoot across the ground.

As a child, I had never really wandered or bolted anywhere although I would walk a few feet away from my mom before she realized and pulled me back over to her. I don’t know why I would walk away, I knew it was dangerous but I felt like I had to walk somewhere or else I would be stuck standing in the same place forever, it was almost like I was being chased away rather than pulled away. It only happens whenever I get sensory overload so maybe it’s just plain fear or anxiety, I’m not too sure why. I would usually go toward the water whenever I was chased away because it felt calm and trustworthy, like a haven in the midst of chaos.

I don’t like people touching me and I never really have. Touching just feels extremely personal and very intimate. I don’t mind if someone touches an article of clothing that I’m wearing but I only let my family touch my actual skin. This, of course, causes issues in more formal social events where you’re expected to shake people’s hands. Most of my family knows to only touch me on my shoulders or back but not everyone knows that and it makes social events very awkward for me. But I usually wear a hoodie and baggie jeans so no one can really touch my skin.

 

I value punctuation very highly. I can not stand it when someone doesn’t arrive when they said they would, even if they only missed their mark by one minute. It makes me very anxious and then I worry about them and when they get there perfectly fine it makes me feel like a fool, which I hate. I have panic attacks whenever I don’t get somewhere on time because I think that once I get there then they will be disappointed and not want to talk to me ever again, even though they won’t and I know that. But that is why I’m very specific about timing and schedules. 

 

These were all some of the issues that I faced with autism. Autism affects people in different ways and it would be extremely difficult to find two people with autism that have the same issues that stem from ASD because autism is so diverse. Autism is harder to study in a scientific manner than something like influenza because of its diverse effects.