This man with autism is finally able to say all that he couldn’t when he was a kid.
Bryan runs a Facebook page called Asperger’s Syndrome Awareness: Bryan’s Advocacy that he uses to be an advocate for people with Asperger’s. Through his page, he shares his experiences as a man on the spectrum. On Friday, he penned a powerful letter from his childhood self to his former teachers.
“As a child I was made to feel bad from the teachers for being a badly behaved child,” Bryan wrote. “I couldn’t communicate my needs in an effective way that would truly get my points across.”
The notes read:
You wrote my mother and father a really formal letter today and they became stressed which made me very sad. I wanted to cry but I struggle expressing my emotions. I got angry instead and pushed mother which made me shout and scream. Daddy, I mean Father, took me to my bedroom for a timeout. I said “Father” because I copy those around me and I wanted to imitate your style of writing. Miss Teacher, I have autism and I want you to imitate me because I don’t want to be called “bad.”
I am not a bad child when I talk over you in class. I do not mean to, I just didn’t process what you were saying to me.
When I shout at you I instantly regret it. The lightbulb in the classroom keeps flickering and it is causing me great discomfort. It hurts me. I become anxious and can’t find the right words to tell you what is bothering me.
When you give me several verbal instructions at the same time I become confused, anxious, and then I forget what you asked me to do. I did not do this on purpose. I have a great long term memory but a terrible short term memory.
I communicate better when information is written down and I become anxious when you ask me to stand up to talk in front of the entire class.
My mother and father cry when you send them a letter to say I’m badly behaved. They blame themselves but I can’t comfort them — the words just do not come. This makes me upset.
Living with autism is not easy. It’s really difficult.
But I believe we can do anything when we put our mind to it. All we need are people that are willing to understand us. I need you to understand me.
So, Miss Teacher, I want us to work together and I want us to understand each other. A famous quote I like is, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its entire life believing it’s stupid.” I don’t learn things in the same way as everyone else.
I don’t expect you to become an autism expert but I want you to understand me enough not to call me “badly behaved” — it hurts me more than you know.
Thank you teacher for reading.
From, every single child on the spectrum.
Bryan was not diagnosed with Asperger’s until he was 23. He spent his childhood and teen years not understanding why he felt different from his peers, so when he finally got his diagnosis it was a relief. Now, he hopes to help others by spreading awareness and understanding about autism.