Yesterday began Autism Awareness Month and, as I thought about all I wanted to say in this post, I realized she had already done it (and when I asked her to do it again I got a massive eye-roll). So I hope you don’t mind, I am re-posting a very special interview here today.
My daughter, an amazing, beautiful teenager, who just so happens to have autism, shares her thoughts…
What does it feel like to have autism?
Strange. It feels like you can’t do everything that you want to do because you don’t fit in most of the time. You feel like you are trapped inside your own world.
What are some good things about having autism?
I get to go on a smaller school bus that is quieter than a big one. I get to relate with other special needs kids. I can understand little kids with autism more than other people can. I get to be manager of my high school soccer team and I have a lot of jobs I do to help them.
What are some not so good things about having autism?
Sometimes you have meltdowns. The smallest thing in your routine can mess your whole day up.
Some people don’t understand you.
Sometimes you get helped too much and you don’t need that much help.
I really hate loud noises and fire alarms.
It is hard to know when to stop doing something that you are doing.
What do you want to tell people about your life as a teenager with autism?
I can’t deal with changes as easy as other people.
Autism makes it hard to concentrate.
Autism is an obstacle I have to overcome every day.
Even though it is hard to do homework you can still make it through school. I am getting all A’s and one B on my report card.
What would you tell other kids with autism?
Ask for help when you need it. Use your resources. Get involved in Special Olympics because that is how I made a lot of friends.
Even though you have autism you can still do what you put your mind to.
Autism is just a word, it is not you, it is just one word to describe you.
What would you like other people to know about people with autism?
That we are not different, that we are just the same as you.
We can do everything we want to do when we put our minds to work.
Note from me:
As a mom, this was a bittersweet interview to conduct, painful and hopeful. Ashlyn shares so much strength and wisdom here but what she doesn’t share are the many struggles that make up her every day because she does not even realize they are struggles.
This is just life for her, a courageous, difficult, beautiful life.
Autism now affects 1 in 88 children.
She is my one.
Please don’t forget to send me your photo and message if you have been touched by someone with autism. The photos coming in are so touching, I can’t wait to put them all together.
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