I Am What I Am: My Life with Autism Spectrum Disorder

I knew I was different at a very young age, even before my parents. Reading was difficult for me to comprehend when I excelled in every other subject. Numbers were facts to me. Words were not. Words had different meanings and I never knew the context a person told them in. What was sarcasm anyway.

When I was around ten, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or what is now called Autism Spectrum Disorder. To dumb it down, those with ASD see life in different perspectives than others. Our brains are made differently that can cause side effects such as problems with communication, language development and social interaction. It also comes with other problems such as anxiety and depression. We also obsess about certain subjects that we love such as I do with sports, we do find out who are friends are in the process, and as you age, Autism Spectrum Disorder gets easier to control with medications and therapy.

The Asperger’s diagnosis was hard to comprehend like everything else in life. Not until I was in junior high did I see what life could be like after I swallowed a cold drink of reality with a pill inside, maybe along with some therapy. These interventions numbed the symptoms and hardships a bit like my depression and gave me a bit of space with my issues with social anxiety. It will never be a quick fix. I had to keep practicing becoming more comfortable with it. 

This affliction does affect those who are well-known. It gave me some hope to my future. One was Eminem, one of very few Caucasian rappers, talked about his diagnosis with his song “Wicked Ways” when he was starting his 40s back in 2013.

“Guess I got a way with words, I could get away with murder. Ever heard of Asperger's? It's a rare condition. It's what you're suffering from when you simply don't care if it's an eighty-degree day and there's no frickin' air conditioning.”

Sir Anthony Hopkins, a multiple Oscar winner and already known as wickedly smart but a bit odd at times, disclosed his diagnosis just few years ago. 

“My philosophy is it's none of my business what people say of me and think of me,” Hopkins said. “I am what I am, and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything.”

I wish I could live by that quote.

Bullying that most people with ASD face comes from the ignorant that don’t understand something or don’t accept anything different from what themselves deal with on a regular basis. I was punched, hit from behind with a dodgeball, teased about how I spoke, and laughed at when I ran a certain way. That is just naming a few. I was never in shape because I ate my feelings as well. Being chubby doesn’t help when you live in Southern California. I still struggle everyday with that. 

The most annoying thing about this diagnosis is the phrase, “well, you don’t look autistic.” How are we supposed to look?!

There are positives to having Autism Spectrum Disorder. You really find out who your friends are. They accept you and they are straight forward with saying so because they understand ASD. I had great friends in high school, and it helped me grow to accept myself for who I am. Amanda, the curly-haired softball cutie that I have been friends with since first grade, was always there for me. She gave the best hugs. Physical affection, such as hugs, help me out a lot with stress. The best part is that I had a friend that could beat the crap out of me if she wanted, but she never did, even with my quirks. 

Romantic relationships for neurotypicals, or those without Autism, are crapshoots in themselves. You swing and miss. With my understanding of who I was as a person, I was still able to enjoy big moments like my first Prom, slow dance, and kiss with a girl, going to Winter Formal and other dances with my friends, and yes, having a significant other. Understanding my ASD let me experience all of it. Finally, I graduated high school and went onto college. 

Now, I’m 26 years old. I have a path to be a sports broadcaster. Many with Autism or any on the Spectrum never go to college, let alone get a college degree. I have my good and bad days, but I must remember, many others have it much worse than I do.

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