Autism Awareness (everyone please read)

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This is a very long essay I wrote for school. I chose to write about it because my own brother is autistic and many of his friends are. The world needs to see these people for who they are, not the autism they see on the outside.

Submitted: June 16, 2009

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Submitted: June 16, 2009

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Autism. A curse, or a gift? Autism is usually frowned upon by society. It is merely a syndrome that has some disadvantages, and many more advantages. People refuse to let themselves think that people with autism can amount to great things. Greater things that the people who doubt them can ever do. There is no known cause and no known cure. But, do we really want a complete cure? Or do we just want a way that those severely autistic can show their wonderful and intelligent minds?

-What is autism?

Autism is a complex syndrome that occurs in the brain. Scientist and psychologist alike do not know where in the brain it takes place. Some think that it is a lack of chemicals in the brain which very well may be. Another theory is that during the pregnancy, there was a developmental issue in the baby’s brain that didn’t produce enough tissue or nerves. One more theory is that while the child was still very young, it had its head hurt and bruised crucial parts of the brain that aid in learning and social skills. There are so many theories about this mysterious syndrome and until scientist figure it out, there will be no solid cure. What we do know, is that autism makes the people it is present in have very keen senses. Their sense of sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. A sound in the hall at school could sound like a very loud noise to them. A tap non the shoulder to get their attention might feel like punch. A sweet taste might be too sweet. Or a rougher touch like that of sand paper may feel like a thousand needles piercing their skin.

-What are the characteristics of autism?

There are so many characteristics or autism, that a one thousand page book couldn’t cover it. There are many basic and not so basic things that you see in all autistic people no matter where they are on the spectrum.

One characteristic that is present in almost every autistic person is that they cannot look into your eyes. No matter how severe the syndrome is, they cannot look into your eyes for more that a few seconds. It could be as mild as P.D.D or a severe level of aspergers. They cannot look into your eyes if they try.

Autistic people usually obsess over something. For my brother Alex, it has been video games, card games like Yugio and Pokemon, toys like Bionicles and Legos, television shows, computers, food and even clothes. They like these types of things because to them, they make sense. They can pick them apart to find out how they work. No physically, but through observation and mentally. Somehow, they are able to “see inside” a computer or game to know how it works down to the electronics.

For the longest time, Alex played with Pokemon cards. He would make me play when I was a little kid and if I said no, he would get very angry, frustrated, or sad because he wants me do play with something he likes and understands. But he only played to a point in time. After Pokemon, he started playing Yugio. Me and my mother think that he switched games because he was sick of doing the same thing over and over. If so, it took him many years to get sick because he played with Pokemon cards for a few years. With Yugio, he would also make me play with him. After playing these games for so long, he became very good at it to the point where no one wanted to play with him because they would lose. In between his obsession with the cards, he started to play with Bionicles and Legos. Many autistic people like things like this because they are a hands on activity. This lasted for a few years. After the Bionicles, Legos, and card games, Alex became very interested with technology. For the longest time, he played Pokemon video games on the Nintendo Gameboy advanced. After Pokemon games, it was Megaman. Megaman was a big obsession and at age 18, it still shows. She collected action figures and all the games. For a technology project, he made a Megaman clock. With foods, Alex was very picky. He would only eat the same thing every day for lunch. When he finally got sick of what he was eating, he switched to another thing. What I have noticed about Alex’s eating habits is that everything he ate for long periods of time was very easy to cook. Things like Chef Boy RD and macaroni and cheese. He wouldn’t eat salad and still doesn’t because he doesn’t like the texture of it. He also doesn’t like that he cant stab it with a fork and pick it up. Many autistic people have to have every thing work like it is supposed so. A fork is to stab and pick up food, and food is to be stabbed with a fork and picked up, was his frame of mind. With clothes, Alex refuses to wear button down shirts or shirts with pockets. As a younger child to about age 7, he refused to wear pants with buttons on them such as jeans. He wouldn’t wear them because the button drove him crazy. He wouldn’t wear jackets with hoods because the hood bothered him to the point where he would scream and cry. As you can tell, obsessions are a big part in an autistic persons life from childhood to adulthood.

Another obsession that all autistic people have is to feel the need for an exact routine every day. From the moment they wake up to the moment the go to bed at night they feel everything needs to happen the same way. If they watch a show every night at 5, then they have to watch that show to continue their lives. If they don’t, they become upset either being sad, angry, or uncooperative. If the teacher used white chalk for 3 days and the next day the chalk was blue, they may question it. If they don’t get an answer that makes sense to them, they tend to become upset.

Autistic people could have many different obsessions than my brother. It tends to stay in the science, math and technology range because they can find out one way or another how it works. They usually like to stay with things that are or can be proven like math or science.

Another characteristic that most tend to ignore is the lack of emotions. Living with my brother, I have observed this on a clear level. My brother doesn’t really feel sympathy, affection, passion, embarrassment, and other emotions. He has them, but they are very weak. His main emotions are happy, sad, angry, and frustrated. I have barely ever seen him cry. Many people, including my family at times, tend to ignore his feelings and say whatever comes to mind. What they don’t really see, and what Alex refuses to show, is that some of the comments sink in and really make him sad. People need to realize that autistic people have feelings too.

Adolescence isn’t a breeze for anyone. Autistic people may find it to be especially challenging. They don’t fit in, they don’t easily make friends, and they don’t know how to appropriately act around their peers with out blunt guidance. They are made fun of more that you or I and usually need a teachers assistant at all times. Middle school isn’t fun for anyone, but autistic people have it harder.

One good characteristic is being extremely picky about everything. If they don’t like the color yellow and the food they like’s natural color is yellow, then they may bring food dye with them everywhere to change the color of that food. They may refuse to wear that color of clothes or use that color of school text book. With my brother, it was food and clothes. With other autistic people, it could be the way they have to brush their teeth or the way their pillows rest on their bed.

And of course, there is the “geek factor.” many and most autistics are very “dorky” and “nerdy” to the rest of society. They know and extreme amount of information about a subject and society already rules them out as a “tech nerd” or a “book geek” and with my brother, “computer nerd.” The way they dress, the things they like, the foods they eat are all open for other children to ridicule. What those other children don’t realize is that autistic people are very smart.

Autistic people tend to be very focused on a subject. It could be anything from math to English from science to music. My brother was very focused in math for years and years and he still is. It has caused him to be very smart in the subject. This was also true for science. He liked these subjects because they could be proven in many ways. Now, he is very focused in computers and technology. Alex is very smart in this subject because he is so focused. But not all autistic people stick to proven things. They can be very focused in English classes and love to read. My brother greatly dislikes reading. But other autistic people like it to the point where they panic without a book by their side. Not saying that is true about all autistics interested in reading but it is a possibility. It is true that some autistic people are extremely gifted in music. Some may have never had a lesson or even know how to read music but they can play any song that they hear in a clear recording. Focus is a thing that is present in all autistic people.

-How much presence of autism is there in our society today?

2 out of 3 people are autistic. This is more than the rate of those who died of cancer, teen driving deaths, and more than the number of people that have the AIDS virus. Though there is a large number of autistic people among us, some may never be diagnosed. I know of a girl that I grew up with that had an autistic brother. My parents and I both agree that something was just a little bit off about her. She didn’t get good grades in English but was very smart in music. He speech was a little off as well. My mother thinks that she may have been autistic. People like this girl, Clara, may never be diagnosed.

Many people ask “is autism only in boys?” This is not true. Autism is more present in boys, it is much more likely that a male has autism, but there are autistic women. Above you read about my old friend Clara who may of may not be autistic, but it very well looks like it.

-Who are some famous autistic people?

There are so many extremely intelligent autistic people that have changed the world. Albert Einstein was believed to be autistic. If he was, it would explain his incredible focus towards math and science. Charles Darwin, the man who came up with the theory of evolution, was also believed to be autistic.

Though there are many great autistic minds in science and math, some are great in comedy and directing. The director Robin Williams is autistic on a lower level, but it is still recognizable. If it wasn’t recognizable, he would have never been diagnosed as so. The actor Adam Sandler is autistic. Again it is recognizable. It I s rumored that the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, is autistic.

The geneous of the autistic mind doesn’t have to be all fun and games. People like Einstein and Darwin have changed the way the world thinks about things. They have changed the way things are teached in schools around the world.

-What kind of challenges do autistic people face?

Autistic people of all ages face challenges that those of us that aren’t can’t fathom. I know by living with my brother that he faces many social challenges which in turn, tends to make him upset. Alex has had trouble talking to people because he cannot tell when a person is not interested in the conversation. He also has trouble taking turns and not interrupting. Social skills are something many autistic people lack.

Over stimulation is a very large challenge that autistic people have to try and overcome. Their senses are much keener than ours. What would sound like a kid walking in the hallway could sound like the banging of a drum right next to them. A tag on their shirt that bothers them could feel like needles. A light tap on the shoulder could feel like a punch, and a smell could be unbearable. As far as visual goes, colors seem brighter, lights seem too bright, and writing is harder to read. That explains why autistic people may not be able to stand a touch they don’t feel comfortable with or a color they don’t like. In turn, this makes it much harder for an autistic person to learn. I know that with my brother, he can’t take a test to his best ability without being in a separate room with only a few people in it at most. With learning a challenges because of challenges they can only try to over come, it makes many people think that autistic people cannot learn and become intelligent. If someone ever says that to you or anybody else, tell them it is a lie.

-With the challenges that they face, how do autistic people learn and become so smart?

What is natural in the autistic mind, is extreme focus and ability to learn a subject they are very interested in. They can become smart with extreme focus and effort. With my brother, I know it has been so much harder for him to learn than anyone else that I know. I couldn’t fathom the difficulty. That is what makes autistic people so amazing. Despite their disability, they are still able to become successful and intelligent. So many things go through their mind at once, it is over stimulating. Even through all the confusion they face, autistic people break through, and become very intelligent.

It is a huge challenge for autistic people to learn. Every noise is amplified, every touch feels almost hurtful, every light seems too bright. Somehow, these amazing people break through their challenges and become successful. Many autistic people are smart, weather they are able to show it or not.

-What are some improvements that need to be made for autistic people in the future?

Many people agree that there are so many changes that need to be made. The first and foremost change needs to be to help those who are severely autistic show us their beautiful minds and make it so they can be able to express themselves. Many men and women that are very high on the autistic spectrum are very intelligent, and the world may never know it. If Albert Einstein was very high on the spectrum, he wouldn’t have been able to change the scientific and mathematical world to where we know it today. In school we might be learning different things in math. Things in science would have never even been though of. If Charles Darwin was high on the spectrum , there would have never been the Scopes Trail and we would still be learning the Christian theory of life on earth. These people from the past could speak and have changed the world. Autistic people of the present may not be able to speak, and have wonderful things to offer out planet.

-What is the difference between mental retardation, and autism?

There is a very large difference in mental retardation and autism. Mental retardation is where many things in the brain are missing and the intelligence and ability to learn isn’t there. From reading above, you have probably realized that autistic people are very able to learn and some even changed the world. Many people ridicule people with autism and call them “retards” which is politically incorrect, very offensive, and a huge lie. Its uncalled for to call anyone a retard but especially with the autistic people of the world.

-What can I do to help the autistic people of my community?

There are so many ways to help these people in your town. Every county has an Autism Task Force. You can make donations of money for research, participate in fundraisers and walks, and even become a tutor through these programs. Though autistic people are very able to learn, they need some help.

The best thing you can do for an autistic person is to be their friend. Sadly, my brother didn’t have any friends until 11th grade. This is because people couldn’t accept him for him and didn’t want to see the real Alex, the Alex I know and the Alex my family knows. With friends, Alex is much more happier and feels that there is more in his life. Many people misjudge autistics and practically shun them. Autistic people have feelings, and they want friends just like you and I. You too can help the autistic people in your community. The world needs to make a change for the better of the autistic people. And the first step starts with you.

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This essay is based on what I know about autism and autistic people. Very little research was used in this essay. I could write books upon books and NEVER cover everything. This is mostly based on Asperger's Syndrome, a very mild form of autism.

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Please make a generous donation to the Autism Task force in your county or the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR). Autism research is one of the lowest funded medical research by both public and private sources. Help the world make a difference for autism. Help make this planet a better place.

Thank you.

"Do not pity me, do not treat me different than the other children... Just understand me."

-An autistic child.


© Copyright 2019 NickiBrokenHeart. All rights reserved.

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