I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and Dyspraxia when I was 15 years old.
Before we begin I should probably explain that the autistic spectrum really is a spectrum. No two people with autism are the same. They may have a lot in common but you cannot call yourself an expert on the topic if you have just met one person.
Autism can have a big effect on the ability to communicate. If you have ever spoken to me you probably have realized that I have long pauses in-between words. It is not just limited to speech. I couldn’t understand facial expressions when I was a kid. I needed a book to tell me what a happy face was and what a sad face was. I guess it was like every face was blank. I still struggle with things like phrases and idioms like “chip on his shoulder”. I took everything too literally. I had a book that helped me with that too. Sticking with books, as a kid I would often read books in a random order. I don’t think that these problems will ever go away but I have improved since childhood and I will continue to try my best to improve.
Dyspraxia is not a type of autism but the two are usually found together. I have trouble with everyday things like using handheld objects. It took me years to learn how to use a knife and fork properly. I struggle doing things like preparing and organizing. I still need reminding on a night to charge my phone and to have a shave. I couldn’t run a bath until I was 13 and whenever I make a sandwich it takes about 20 minutes, and it still isn’t very good. Lots of people think I have bad handwriting and I am hopeless with scissors.
A classic trait of Autism is been afraid of loud noises and crowded environments. In the last few years I have managed to adapt to been part of large crowds and I am slowly adjusting to loud noises. I still find it difficult coping with things like balloons popping, fire alarms and loud car engines. When I was young though, I had to go upstairs when my parents or grandparents were vacuuming. We also had to turn the volume on the television really high on bonfire night so I wouldn’t get scared of the fireworks. I also found places with lots of people like shopping centres stressful as a child.
The biggest problem I have with autism is that it creates a feeling of Isolation. I always found it difficult interacting with other children. Sometimes they would act as if they were my friends but I found out the hard way that they were just mocking me. I did have a chance to make real friends when I was older but I got nervous and things didn’t work out. My biggest worry is not knowing if I will be able to live a normal life. However I am trying to change all my worries. I am meeting new people all the time. I attend an 18-30 social club run by Lighthouse Futures Trust and I volunteer for a charity called Aware which takes children with autism out for a trip one Saturday a month. I obviously still worry about the future but I decided that doing nothing will make things worse.
Lighthouse Future's Trust Intern