Today, April 2nd is the 6th annual World Autism Awareness Day. The day highlights autism organizations and the people on the autism spectrum. April is also Autism Awareness Month. All throughout April, organizations will be raising awareness of autism. And awareness is badly needed! A recent study from the CDC said one in 50 kids has autism! The numbers have been steadily going up over the years due to better detection rates.
The world around us has got to know that Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome is more prevalent than people think. And now I am going to dive into my own personal thoughts about the autism spectrum. Up until age 19, I had no idea I had Asperger’s Syndrome. But through most of my teenager years, I knew I was different from other people. Being different made me a bully target not only from other kids, but from some adults as well. My father was not a big help in getting treatment or therapy. I had sleeping problems and was on a C-Pap machine. I was a huge bed-wetter through my teenager years. I had some emotional problems and did some wacky things. If you thought I was weird, well yes, yes I was.
Being different was not a good thing around some members of my family. After my mom and dad divorced, my dad went on a dating spree meeting several women. Some of the women had nice kids and I was hoping we would maybe get to live together. Looking back, I wonder if my dad never had a chance to have a deep relationship because of me. Then my dad meet someone who had three stepbrothers, at first things went great. Then all hell broke loose. The three stepbrothers along with my younger brother began to mess with me.
The boys would do anything from hitting me, punching me, kicking me, chasing me down on the street, tying me up to a chair, verbally calling me bad names, had their friends at school harass me, and even try to drown me in Lake Michigan! This time in my life was horrible. I would scream for help because it was four boys against one. I would be the one who got in trouble because I was screaming for help. The boys would only get a slap on the wrist while I was sent to my room for days at a time. Things got so bad an alarm was put on my bedroom door, I had to sit at the dining room table with a video camera trained on me while the family went out, since I was a bed-wetter, I was not allowed to wash the bed sheets, imagine how bad that was.
During this time while living with my dad, by the way, a judge allowed my dad to have custody. I was put in special education classes and two special schools. One school was filled with people in quiet rooms and in timeouts. And the other school was actually good. I never understood why I was placed in these special schools or why I was different. If I had known I had Autism back then, I think things would have been different. I got the chance to move back to my mom after my dad finally gave up. Things went well for a while. The bullying in schools never stopped and my mom had a relationship with someone who was an alcoholic. After barely graduating from high school, I moved on to other relatives and then on my own.
My aunt said I had autism but I never had a diagnosis. After going through vocational rehab, I got a chance to be evaluated by a psychologist, and then the diagnosis came. I had Autism! I had plenty of time to reflect on my past and to connect the dots. After doing a lot of research online about the behaviors of Autism and Asperger’s, I came to accept that I had autism. After my time in school, I held various jobs but the same things always came up. Some co-workers saw that I was different and began to bully. Also, some of the jobs I did were not appropriate for my skills. I was dropping and breaking things left and right and this cost employers money, then my job.
Today, I have been unemployed for 22 months. And I am still looking for my 14th job in seven years. I believe we need to do a better job teaching the public about autism. There are some people out there who does not believe in the autism spectrum and believes that people with autism are just “spoiled brats.” I also do think people on the autism spectrum faces discrimination in many aspects in their lives from employment, getting help, dealing with the police and courts, and other things. I believe many people on the autism spectrum will face not so great lives and I wish this was not the case.
Here in Alabama, the Autism Society of Alabama raises awareness of the autism spectrum. Throughout April, there will be Autism Walks held at many cities across Alabama. To learn more about the walks go to: http://www.walkforautismal.com/
I wanted to close with this. Since starting the Geek Alabama blog after I was horribly fired from my last job. I have experienced great things in my life. I have gone out and covered many great people and events. I have talked about and promoted many businesses, events, geeky topics, TV and movies, products, and many more things. I have been featured on various media sources. Basically I have grown to be a better person because of this blog! I have also met a lot of people who have grown to love me and this website. I am hoping something will happen where this blog will earn me a great living! I think we will turn the tide of autism awareness to love and support. It’s going to take education and awareness! Please shine a blue light for autism awareness!
- What does the Autism Spectrum look like? (mypicturedmoments.com)
- World Autism Awareness Day (angela-mommytimeout.blogspot.com)
- 101 on Autism Diversity, for Autism Awareness Day (autismandoughtisms.wordpress.com)
- Today is World Autism Awareness Day (scrapbookladypages.com)
- Autism in Nepal (sujenman.wordpress.com)