Life with autism

Since I was little, my parents and I always thought I had ADHD and bipolar disorder; my mom and dad never really thought about me having autism. My mom only knew of the lower end of the autism spectrum, where someone might have a lot of trouble functioning in daily life. We didn’t know there was an entire autism spectrum and someone might be high functioning but still have autism. When I was 9-years-old, a counselor suggested that I may have autism, and that we should get testing done. After the testing, the results came out that I had Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s is a higher functioning form of autism.

Recently, we’ve been told that there is no scale but just the spectrum. You might have heard a lot about autism, but the definition is not really clear. Autism is also known as autism spectrum disorder or ASD and can be very confusing, because it can be anything like intellectual disabilities, difficulties in motor skills, attention problems, and even physical things, like sleep problems and gastrointestinal symptoms. But we can also be very talented in things like music, math and art. It’s also very common for those of us who have autism to have a huge obsession and that is something that helps us understand things; let’s say you said something about a lullaby, I’d relate that to a Pokémon called Jigglypuff, which sings people and Pokémon to sleep.

My autism symptoms show up in things like attention problems, anxiety, and I have a classic autism symptom of rocking back and forth in my seat; I basically can’t sit still and that’s common for people with autism. I’m very skilled at writing and drawing and when I’m having a hard time paying attention I use upbeat music to help me concentrate. I can relate almost anything you say to something in Pokémon.

It’s hard living with this as I have ADHD, PTSD and I have AHVH (Audio and Visual Hallucinations) too. I’m more than just autistic and as my psychiatrist says I’m weird and quirky (he means it in a nice way), but I make it through with the help of my family and friends.

I’ve always had problems in schools too. They never wanted to work with us and we always lost the fight unless my mom went all out on them and I mean all out. She would have to scream at the top of her lungs sometimes to get them to listen. One time, when we were in Florida, we lost the fight even when she yelled. One day I didn’t want to go to school because of the kids bullying me. I got in the car and went, but I wouldn’t get out of the car and the assistant principal tried to get me out, but instead of getting out I attacked her. It might seem mean, but that’s what happens when you put an autistic child in the normal school setting. I used to push my mom up against walls when I was 7 or 8, because I got so stressed-out over homework. With someone who is autistic you can’t put a time or a day on things, and you can’t change it the same day it is supposed to happen. If you say it, then you better mean it. I’ve learned to mainly overcome that. I still have problems with it, but I can mainly handle it.

MSHS is helping me right now with me being in school. They’re working with us to help me possibly get a high school diploma, but I would more than likely get a completion diploma. Many people have helped me to overcome my challenges and I know if you have, or know someone who has, disabilities that you or they can overcome anything!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Angel O’Connor is 16 years old. She lives in Ishpeming. Angel loves Pokemon and loves to write fiction.