Autism: From My Son’s Perspective
One thing that you can’t tell just by looking at me is that I am autistic. This is important for you know because you will never know how I will react in any given situation. I want be able to control my thoughts and actions but sometimes I just can’t do it. One time, while exiting the library, I wanted to push the button to open the door, but another kid jumped in front of me and pushed the button. I was surprised by the kid’s presence and I have a tough time with communication. Instead of telling the kid, “Hey, I was here. I want to push the button”, I threw myself down to the ground in frustration and had a meltdown. I wanted to pick myself up immediately and act as “normal” as possible but my brain was thinking so fast and my body couldn’t keep up. In other words, it doesn’t matter to me that I am not following societal norms such as crying, kicking and screaming and being very loud in the library. I just couldn’t get past the fact the kid hit the button and it took me a long time to settle down and actually walk to the car. At least my mom was with me to help me with the situation.
I love to hop and flap my arms when I get excited and I absolutely love pushing buttons especially in an elevator. Click. Click. Click. I would love to hit all of the buttons like in the movie “Elf”. I have asked my mom on multiple occasions if I could just hit all of the buttons but she told me we would have to stop on every floor. This won’t work for me as I am a very impatient person. I will need to count all of the floors as the elevator is moving. I may hop and flap my arms while I am counting. Others won’t understand what I am doing and may judge me.
My grandfather has a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs that has a “Push” button on it to open and close the gate. I love to visit my grandfather’s house to click the button on the gate. Click. Open the gate. Click. Close the gate. Click. Open the gate. Click. Close the gate. Click. Click. Click. The noise and the sound of pushing the button absolutely bothers my grandfather. But I love it! He will yell out to me, “Will you stop doing that? Why do you have to do that?” Yet I cannot answer him. It is just the way my brain works.
I am very sensitive to sounds. I do not like to be surprised by loud sounds such as a fire sirens, fire drills at school, storms that have lots of thunder or even fireworks. But I do have my noise cancelling headphones with me just in case it becomes too overwhelming for me.
Sometimes, I stare off into space and don’t always pay attention. One day, while staring in space, my mom asked me, “What is your brain thinking?” I told her, “My brain is on full power.” I don’t think she understood me! There are a lot of people who can’t understand what I am saying which causes me to become so frustrated. I can still have meltdowns today but they don’t last as long like when I was younger.
Another thing I love to do is make sounds with my lips. I love Hot Wheels Cars and love crashing them. I love to make sounds when I crash. It is so much fun! But I make a lot of sounds throughout the day. In fact, my teacher calls it “Volcano Sounds” while at school. At least my teacher understands that I love to make sounds!
I love cats! Cats are my favorite animal. I got a cat from the Animal Rescue League. He was just a kitten at the time and he is all black. I just love him so much! My mom told me that I cannot squeeze him but that is how you know that I love you. I named him Victor. He really comforts me when I need to be comforted. One time, I was having a tough time so I laid on the floor in a fetal position. Victor came up to me and would push his head against my head. I just love it when he does that! Victor allows me to pet him and allows me to be close to his face. He comes to my bed every night while my mom reads books to me. I wish I could speak “Cat”. Then we can communicate with each other. Throughout the house, you may hear me say, “Meow. Meeeooowww. Meow.” I am trying to communicate with Victor.
I play the piano. My teacher, Kathy, told me that I have a great ear for music but I don’t understand what she means. While I practice the piano, Victor will jump on top of the piano and lay there while I am practicing. He loves to hear me play! Last week, I told Victor, “I will make you proud.” When my fingers are on the keys, I love to feel the vibration of the sound.
I hate when my schedule changes without notice. It is very difficult for me to move forward if the change is not planned. This has led to many meltdowns and still continues to this day. One time, we had an assembly at the school and I missed gym. I became so upset and I cried so much, I never made it to the assembly. I couldn’t move past the change. My mom always needs to tell me my schedule the night before.
Here are some other facts about me that you may not know. I am a very literal person. I do not understand jokes or even sarcasm. I can be super focused especially when it comes to Legos so I may not hear you call my name. You may have to call my name several times before I respond. My number one anxiety is being left alone. But I generally have anxiety about everything especially about potential changes in my schedule. I am very empathetic. It really bothers me if another child is crying. I am not very social with other people. If another person comes to me at the playground and says, “What is your name?” I may ignore the person as it is hard for me to communicate with others “on the spot.” I have sensory issues and need to move all the time. I cannot sit still. I have texture issues when it comes to food and cannot eat anything that is mushy. I have to smell all of my food first. Then I may eat it. If the food doesn’t look appealing, I won’t eat it. Once I like a certain food, I may eat the same food every day.
I still have many interventions in place to help me along throughout my day. I can do more things now than I could ever have before with all of the support from everyone who works with me on a daily basis. But once again, I am very unpredictable. You may never know how I will react and I may not be able to explain what is happening in my brain until I am ready.
You may never understand how my brain works and I may never be able to communicate to you what I am thinking or feeling. You may not even understand what I am saying but I am trying to communicate. I have worked really hard to get where I am today. I continue to work hard on my communication skills, schedule changes, and overall behavior. I love my family and my school and overall I am very happy. I told my mom I would be happier if I got more Legos.