My Journey with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Join me in my efforts to support Autism Speaks!
I am raising funds to support a cause that is important to me while accomplishing a personal goal. Team Up with Autism Speaks holds a very near and dear place to my heart. I was diagnosed at age 20 with ASD, formerly known as Asperger's Syndrome. Growing up, I never understood why I found it so difficult to socialize with regard to making and keeping friends. I never understood why teachers used to get frustrated with me. When I was in sixth grade, my efforts to try to fit in and adjust to all the changes really took a toll for the worse. I was acting out because I wanted to make friends, and my efforts in doing so felt temporarily good because I was blinded as to the fact I was being targeted. It was not until I started getting in trouble and people were making fun of me that I became very depressed. I started talking about suicide a lot in school. I talked about it so much to a point where I started telling people about fake attempts. I was asked to take a leave of absence from school to obtain a psychiatric evaluation. One psychiatrist wanted to place me a in a psychiatric institute, but my parents disagreed to it. They took me instead to someone whom they knew, and he agreed to see me in an outpatient setting.
The school started having meetings with my parents, and it took them to bring in the psychiatrist to beseech the school that I stay matriculated. The school wanted to send me to a special school, and they told my parents I would be lucky to make it to 8th grade. I was able to stay matriculated in school, but I was placed under restrictions which meant that I had to report to the special education room every morning. I had to be escorted from class to class, and I had to go to class 5 minutes after the bell rang so that I would not be around other kids. I had to leave class 5 minutes before the bell rang, and I was escorted out of class by either the special education teacher or her paraprofessionals. I was not allowed to eat lunch in the cafeteria, and I was not allowed in the hallways during passing periods. I was basically very limited as to amount of exposure I was able to have to other peers. The school eventually let up on some of the restrictions, but nonetheless, I still had to eat in the special education room. The only difference was that I was able to invite peers to come and eat lunch with me. I invited peers who gave me any sort of attention; even though negative. I was not allowed to ask; the special education teachers or the paraprofessionals asked.
I still was acting out a lot, especially in 7th grade because I wanted friends so desperately but could not make one. I kept thinking that people will change their minds and be my friend eventually if I kept making a weird face, or sing in a funny voice, etc. I kept hoping and hoping that things would be different, but it was not until the summer going into 8th grade when nobody ever wanted to come over nor was I invited anywhere. I went through 8th grade and high school just very lonely and without friends.
The first time trying to navigate through friendships happened for me when I was in college. At first, it started off on a rocky foot because I did not know how to properly connect well with others. I was recommended to get psychologically tested at the end of my freshman year of college from a therapist. The results from the psychological test showed potential non-verbal learning disability that needed further evaluation. I was referred to a nueropsychologist who took a look at my tests and learned of my whole history. She diagnosed me with Asperger's Syndrome. In retrospect, growing up not knowing I was on the Autism Spectrum felt like I was blind-folded in a maze with the expectation that I was to find myself out of the maze. The expectation is more for the fact that people with ASD do not have a phenotypical look to them. In other words, a person doesn't look Autistic. When I was finally diagnosed at age 20, it was like the blind-fold was lifted. However, I was further in the trenches of the maze with the same expectation to find my way out.
It took many years of finding well-trained therapists and acquiring feedback from others to finally arrive at the place where I am today. I have a law degree and a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling. I got introduced to Team Up with Autism Speaks when I lived in New York. The first run I did with them was the 4 miles for hope run. After that, I became hooked to running with Team Up. I did the 2016 NYC Half Marathon, Chicago 2016, 2017, 2018, and now 2019 full marathon. I also will be running the 2019 NYC full marathon. I give back to others through counseling and running. I am currently having my upcoming memoire edited.
From having gone through years of not feeling supported and not being properly helped, I never would want any other individuals and families of individuals with Autism to feel the same. Every time I pound pavement, I am aiming to break the stigma of Autism and show people what Autism really is. Autism, after all is called a Spectrum for a reason; because Autism is beautiful like the rainbow. Autism is something to celebrate. Everytime I wear the Autism Speaks shirt or singlet, I am aiming to give hope and encouragement to individuals with Autism and families of individuals with Autism.
Your donation to Autism Speaks will mean the world for many individuals and familes of indiviuals with Autism. I want to thank you very much for donating to a charitable cause very near and dear to my heart.
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