My Journey as an 'Extraordinary Aspie'
When I was diagnosed at the age of 14 with Asperger’s syndrome, the experts at the place where I was diagnosed told my mom and myself not to expect much from me and that I should be placed in their school where I could learn rudimentary skills.
The journey all started when I was in preschool and my teacher suspected something. So I went to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and was diagnosed with severe sensory integration dysfunction and underwent intensive occupational therapy. I went through school undiagnosed until my occupational therapist in the ninth grade suggested my mom read about Asperger’s syndrome. She said it was like they’ve followed me all my life and wrote about me.
At diagnosis I was also discovered to have an IQ of 130 and that I could read at an advanced college level. So my mom spoke to my resource teacher and he was vehemently opposed to me going to a separate school, and said to keep me mainstreamed. My art teacher asked me if she could ask my resource teacher to speak to the class about my disability. I said OK, and thought “Yea right! Once they find out I’m a ‘freak,’ they’ll treat me even worse!”
My resource teacher came and spoke to them, and they asked a few questions and I thought I was right. Boy, was I mistaken! The next day at lunch I heard my name and thought nothing of it. Then my spot under the tree got dark. I looked up and it was our high school boys’ basketball team. They told me they wanted to help me, and I scoffed. They told me they spoke to my resource teacher and that he was on board. From that day on, I had a core group of friends.
When I went to college, the first school tried to kick me out of because of my “problems” and my mom and I fought them. I eventually transferred and ultimately graduated with my B.A. — and was the first one in my family to do so! I want to help others, and I’m very empathetic and caring. I loathe injustice with a passion!
My goddaughter and I get along phenomenally well and I’m her primary role model and mentor. In my Special Olympics swim team I’m the oldest one on the roster, and the whole team relies on me. I’m their best friend and when I’m not there, they can’t function without me. They listen to what I have to say, the assistant coach relies on me to help him with our team and I’m the team mentor leader.
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Thinkstock photo by Chris Gorgio.