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What does it mean to have Autism?
Well, I cannot really answer that question for you? Why not you might ask? Let me clarify my answer. I can answer that question, but it would be based on my own personal experiences of being on the spectrum. Basically, my answer would include my point of view (POV). If you ask another individual who has ASD, their answer maybe slightly different from mine. This is because everyone with Autism is different.
My POV on Autism Spectrum Disorder
For me, I think having Autism is a blessing and I am lucky to have it. I must admit that I did not always think this especially if I am having a really hard day. When I found out about my autism, my therapists and family had to help me understand what it meant. It was a foreign word. It was a word I had overheard my parents say before, but I never understood what it looked like or sounded like. I mean, when my therapists were teaching me how to speak and understand language, a picture of a car or a toy car with the label car was easy to learn and understand. It was a clear example of something concrete. But, this word, AUTISM-No clue!
My POV on Anxiety
Many people on the spectrum also suffer from anxiety. I worry a lot about things that might happen and sometimes my anxiety is way too big. I have learned to manage my anxiety over the years by using a variety of strategies. Some of these include, listening to music, texting the people in my life who I trust, watching funny TV shows, or relaxing in my room. Another thing that helps is taking medication. People have different POV's on taking medication to help with anxiety. I am not suggesting that everyone take medication. I just want you to know that I do. Finding the right medication can be hard. My parents took me to see many different doctors to help me find the right medication and amount. It did take a long time to find the right medication for me. The point is a life filled with anxiety is not a life anyone wants to live.
My POV on Communication
When I was diagnosed at three years old, I was not speaking at all. I eventually learned some sign language and I used the Picture Exchange for Communication (PECS). My parents were told there was a 50-50 chance that I would ever be able to speak. My parents did not give up and tried a lot of things to help me and had me going to a lot of speech therapy. Who tells a parent that their child has a 50-50 chance of talking? It is like they are betting in Las Vegas. Well, guess what, they lost. Sometimes it is still hard for me to communicate verbally what I am thinking and feeling. I have always preferred to write or type things down. When I feel sensitive about something it helps if my therapists or family write things down for me. My message to everyone is to never give up on teaching communication skills to others. Yes, it can be very tricky and hard for some people, especially those with autism. The thing is you must find the best way to help that person. Not every person with ASD will be able to speak. That is OKAY! You can find a different way like using an iPad, or PECS or sign language. There might even be an invention in the future. Who knows, right? The important thing is to believe in them and help them communicate.
Learning to accept my Autism
If I must be honest, it took a long time (and patience) for me to really understand this term. Unfortunately, there was a time when I thought it meant I was stupid or not good enough and that I was different in a negative way. Sometimes I used it as an excuse when things got too hard. This thought still pops into my head, but I try to fight it away. But the thing is that accepting my autism took a while. It meant having a lot of conversations with my family, teachers, and therapists. They never gave up on me. Having autism does not make me stupid, but instead it makes me special. It makes me the way I am. You may not understand everything that I am saying or writing, but for me, I call it MICHAELISM ("my Autistic English"). It is how I speak and understand what is going on. I have challenges because of my autism, but I am learning to accept them, and so should you. I believe that you need to tell someone about their ASD. You should do it in a way that they can better understand and be proud of who they are. We can only accept it when we understand what it means.
My POV on writing a book
When I had the idea to write my book, MICHAELISM-My POV on Life with Autism, I shot it down in my head. Even after I started writing, I wanted to quit. I would think, "No one is going to care about me or this book". I would even beg people who supported me to let me delete it. I was afraid people would make fun of me and that this book would be a huge flop. It took a lot of time and convincing from others that I really should not care what people think. I just had to do it. This book is for me! Yes, I do hope it MIGHT help someone else who has ASD or their family members. I am glad that you are reading my book and getting to know me, POV’s and my autism-ness. My book is not intended to provide any professional advice. It is a personal account of my experiences living in a world where others may not have always understood me. I am hoping to shed some light on what it is like living with Autism. My book is available in both physical and digital versions on Amazon, Apple Books, Rakuten Kobo, Google Play, Indigo and Parentbooks.
About Michael Tanzer
Michael Tanzer is a young adult with Autism. He is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Advocator and has written several articles for a magazine called Autism Matters. This book is based on his own personal experiences. He shares his Point of View (POV) on Life with Autism and hopes that the readers will gain a better understanding of individuals with ASD.
DISCLAIMER: This document reflects the views of the author. It is Autism Ontario’s intent to inform and educate. Every situation is unique and while we hope this information is useful, it should be used in the context of broader considerations for each person. Please contact Autism Ontario at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-246-9592 for permission to reproduce this material for any purpose other than personal use. © 2020 Autism Ontario 416.246.9592 www.autismontario.com