IS WHAT I AM (Diagnosed with Autism)
She doesn’t look autistic. What does autism look like anyway? It looks like me and the kids in my classroom, the little boy in the playground. You can’t see it right away until you stand in a room with autism.
“It is part of her.” “It is who she is.” “She can not help herself.” “I’m not babying her!” “Please have patience and understand her!” These are words I hear my parents use to family members and friends. Why? you ask? Because I am on the Autism spectrum, at the very low end I’m told. My diagnosis is called PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not otherwise Specified. Mom calls my behaviors tendencies. Autistic tendencies. At school, people or friends do not see it because I do very well in school and do not have any learning disabilities. I do have very low muscle tone that is visible and sometimes kids like me might have. I am on a 504 plan to help. My peers and teachers might notice my hand flapping when I get excited. Self regulation is what I think it is called. The other thing they might notice is I am very precise in my routine. Then there is social and coping skills that I am trying to work on. Most of all my anxiety! This sometimes interferes and I get emotional breakdowns where I cry and get upset. It is not easy.
At home is another story. Routine is very important. I have to do this first before I do that. When I do not, I get upset and sometimes argumentative and demanding. Autistic is what I am! Not spoiled or bratty. Then, this is when my mom says, “Talk to her, meet her halfway. Keep her calm.” Television belongs to me, but after my homework, in that order. Family comes into the room . “Are you watching that again !!” I have watched an ICarly episode more than 100 times and I rewind over and over to my favorite part laughing along all the time. Someone else might not find it funny after 3 times. “She can not help it. Leave her alone.” Mom says, or she will try to get my attention to do something else. Computer, games, a book, a song or Cd, no matter what it is I won’t just do it once . I love repetition. It is a part of me. I can not explain how it feels, but it feels good and satisfying. Just like a piece of chocolate when you have a craving for it. I do that too. I love chocolate. Hershey’s is my favorite. I will also talk your ear off with stories or will talk about the same topic for hours and if something upsets me I have trouble letting it go. Autistic is what I am , not an attention seeker or someone who thinks life is all about me. I am not selfish, but am a caring , empathetic,and sensitive kid. I perceive things differently and see them in a different way. My concentration is admired by my family even if it directed in a different way. They understand me. They understand autism, I think it is not easy at home being the way I am, Autistic, but I understand am aware of myself and my family. We work together and I have learned self control because I have tendencies and am high functioning. Normal to some. I don’t see anything wrong with people with autism. I do know some children have more severe emotional and learning problems and need more help than me. Some can not talk or express emotions and others yell all the time and speak loudly. I am in the middle somewhere. I have read and seen movies about autism along with my family and they say love ,compassion and patience will get families through all the tough times. Autism will not go away. It is part of them and me.
As you can see, I Melody Rivera, am not an ordinary girl. Yes, autism has kept me from doing some of the “normal” things kids do and being more sensitive to things than others. Autism has not been my weakness!! If anything it has been my strength! As I’ve grown to be a teenager I have learned about empathy. That has filled my heart and I’ve learned to show kindness to everyone and in everything thing I do. This is because I was cared for by my parents, teachers, doctors, nurses and therapists. I was important to them, so I see everything I do , say, and have as having great importance. I have learn to be structured, responsible for my things and my responsibilities in school as priorities. Because of these learned behaviors and responsibilities, I have been molded to be the young adult with a positive attitude filled with perseverance and an attitude of gratitude for all that has been in my life and has helped me along the way. I am unique and a diagnosis does not define me because I have not let it.
So, if you’re ever in a room with autism. Remember to have compassion and understanding. Do not be quick to judge. That kid or even adult are not misbehaved or bratty,disrespectful or disruptive. They are autistic. It is who they are. Unique and mysterious I’ve heard, and a bit confusing. A puzzle piece is the symbol of autism because people are puzzled about autism and try to solve and explain it. We are part of this community and world. Welcome us, and embrace us because I am one of you.