We Are Not Missing a Piece

Nick Pettis and

The month of April is Autism Awareness month. However, even though you have heard of the term you may wonder, what is Autism? The CDC defines autism as, “a developmental disability  that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.” (What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? | CDC).

Autism Awareness day logo. Provided by: Freepik

Now, I bet you’re wondering what does this have to do with me? Why would I choose to write about something like this? I am a student at MSJC who has Asperger’s Syndrome Disorder, which has been classified as Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. So, this topic is something important to me. Not very many people understand what people who have ASD go through.

Some signs or symptoms of someone who has ASD are:

  • not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)
  • not look at objects when another person points at them
  • have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
  • avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
  • appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
  • be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them
  • repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language
  • have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
  • not play “pretend” games (for example, not pretend to “feed” a doll)
  • repeat actions over and over again
  • have trouble adapting when a routine changes
  • have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
  • lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)” (What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? | CDC).

We’re not “normal”, but who is really normal? I’ve been through most of these in my life, but I’ve worked through my challenges. Some people have variations of autism which are more severe, but that doesn’t make them less important than I am.

There are many famous people have autism as well. Some of these people include: Tim Burton, Dan Aykroyd, Jerry Seinfield, and more. (20 Celebrities Who Have Autism (tvovermind.com)). Just because we have autism, doesn’t mean that we can’t succeed. Steven Luker, an alumni and assistant coach at MSJC, was able to get past his challenges and become a coach for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. So people with autism are able to do some great things. Here’s a video he’s done for the NFCA. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1U336lRCz26tJPEk_ekXaG4CaGNmzVns2/view?usp=sharing

Autism is classified as a disability, like paraplegia or Alzheimer’s. However, I do not like to see it as disability. I like to see it as a “different ability.” There are different kinds of smart, just like there are different abilities. You wouldn’t ask a quadriplegic to lift a box. I may not be good at understanding facial expressions, but I can share a lot about my interests. So, we can do things that others can’t.

Just because we’re different doesn’t mean that we have to be treated as such. Sometimes autistic people get bullied. I remember being picked on from elementary school all the way through high school. A rule that I like to live by is to treat people the way you want to be treated. That’s all there is to it. If you want to be treated kindly, be kind. If you want to be treated badly, keep treating others badly. The choice is yours.

I would love for you to help me to spread autism awareness across the nation. Stop the hate. Autism affects a lot of people, some people you know could have it. We’re not missing a piece of a puzzle, we just found a different puzzle to complete.