High school is an adjustment for most kids, but mine was compounded by my learning differences. My sophomore year I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD,and then out no where, my Junior year I was faced with a diagnostic that changed my life. I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD. To me it was a huge moment, a lot of things made sense to me, like why I had a hard time interacting socially, why it was harder to focus in school, and why sometimes I struggled reading social cues and reading expressions. While a lot made sense, I had a lot of questions too, like why I wasn’t diagnosed sooner, why can’t I interacted with other kids normally, and why other kids and teachers treated me differently. As I got more and more use to it, I got very down on myself about it . However, although I had these questions, and uncertainty, I knew I couldn’t be held back by it.
When I was diagnosed, I thought that I would have to change everything in my life. I was focused on what I had to do to be “normal.” It took me time to realize that I didn’t have to change everything. I had autism before I knew I had it, that means that I didn’t have to change who I am because of it. Yes, it is a hurdle I have to jump over, but it doesn’t have to be a battle within myself. As I have learned more and more about ASD, I learn more about myself. Certain things I do, ways I do things make sense to me. I realized from reading Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin, and in the book she describes the relationship between animals and people with autism. She describes that autistic people love deep pressure like tight belts, bracelets, deep hugs, and I related to that because I love things like that.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is not just a general diagnosis, it is a spectrum. I was diagnosed with being on the high end of the spectrum. Having a high functioning form of ASD means that I have more ability than some who who are lower functioning. This means that I can’t let it be a road block. I work harder in school, lacrosse, and to learn social skills, which has helped me develop a work ethic that fuels my drive to do the best I can in everything I do. In college, I want to study psychology, not only because it interests me, but also because I have an opportunity to help those who are like me. When I was first diagnosed, I struggled with it. I felt a lot of things, I felt like I wasn’t capable of overcoming it, and I felt like I was alone. I went to a few groups with kids who had the same diagnostic, and I felt like just participating was a helpful thing for, not only me, but them. I want to do the same thing for those who feel the same way as I did.
With both ASD and ADHD, I have struggled a lot with social skills, and making friends my whole life. When I was younger, other kids would think I was annoying and I didn’t know why. People told me I talked a lot, and did, but never knew how to stop. As I got older, I kept struggling, and I didn’t know why. So, I began to watch other kids interact with one another. I did this because I hoped that I could learn how to be more social and be accepted. By the time that I reached my junior year, and was diagnosed and I told some adults and students, they told me that they wouldn’t have guessed from the way I interact that I struggle with social interaction.
I was told, when I was diagnosed, that some of the greatest minds probably had autism. That has stuck with me, and continues to motivate me. It motivates me to do great things despite the fact I have autism. Having ASD has taught me many things about myself , and helped me discover who I am, but most importantly it has taught me how to face adversity, and create something good when there seems to be nothing good.