By Michelle Damiata
Autism is not just a disability; Autism is something that requires understanding and empathy. Autism is a mental disability that affects a child’s social skills and learning skills as well. It can also affect the way a child’s thinking and it can make it difficult to comprehend (understand) words, situations, facial expressions or emotions. A person can be born with Autism. Autism sometimes can make it difficult to focus as well. There are different types of Autism that is on the Autism Spectrum (ASD). People with Autism learn differently than people without Autism.
I want to share my story about my life with Autism. I was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at six years old. PDD-NOS stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified is a form of Autism that’s on the Autism Spectrum. I also have a touch of Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s syndrome is another form of Autism that is also on the Autism Spectrum which is considered to be high functioning. I had no eye contact, poor language skills, always had temper tantrums every 24 hours a day, and poor social skills. I was non-verbal at that time. I was overly sensitive to everything like noises, and many other things as well.
I didn’t really understand why I had tutors in classes with me. I still do and I’m fine with that. I have tutors in classes with me because I learn differently. Without tutors, I would be very confused and I wouldn’t be able to understand what’s going on.
I was bullied, picked on and made fun of, lied to, and I was pointed at and people stared at me. It made me feel that I would never fit in and blend in like everyone else. They tried to push me down but for those who care about me, they helped me go back up on my feet.
I have met people with disabilities and they have shared their stories about their lives about living with disabilities with me. And look at me now, I’ve worked extremely hard and I’m very independent. Whenever people try to bring me down, I automatically get back up. When a person points and stares at someone with Autism, that’s called being rude and disrespectful and not only that, and it’s also judging them. I felt that was when people were judging me because they didn’t really understand. When a person with Autism is being judged, it can bring bad reminders of their disabilities.
For those of you who support people with Autism and don’t judge them at all, keep continuing to help make Autism Awareness even bigger and bigger and keep treating them to make them feel “normal” and keep up with the good work. Also for those of you who don’t seem to understand Autism, you can try to ask yourself, “How can I help people with Autism?”. For those of you who have Autism, you are like beautiful fearless warriors. Nothing can stop you from succeeding. You can succeed like everyone else. You are just as equal like everyone else is. If you want to succeed, go for it.
For those of you who want to understand Autism, you can also try to understand them better and have empathy. I ask you to understand people with Autism and most importantly, understand Autism. I also ask you to give them fairness, equality and respect. And I encourage you to stop judging people with Autism, instead of judging, learn how to accept them. Nothing will ever stop me from rising to the top. Nothing is going to stop me from rising all the way to success. And nothing will ever stop people with Autism from rising to the top of success. We the people with Autism will rise to the very top of success. For an example, at my school I once saw a assembly called “Yes You Can”. I was touched by how well the speaker talked about his life and his success that he had during his life before and now. He never lets his disability stop him from succeeding.
I am never going to give up that is why I am writing this speech and I want to help/teach through out the world. Finally, I would like you to remember, it doesn’t matter if you have Autism or any other disabilities, or if you not disabled, fairness, equality and most of all acceptance is what matters.
Michelle is 19. She is a student. She wrote the above speech because she wants to help spread autism awareness worldwide.