Through our eyes: What it’s like

The “Through our eyes” series invites you to hear and learn from the perspectives of young adults in our community living with autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, learning disabilities or other social challenges.

Before we begin, I would like to clarify that I only speak on behalf of myself and no one else on the autism spectrum. My experiences with Asperger’s syndrome are entirely my own, so your child or someone you know who is also on th spectrum may have some differences, whether it be with social interaction or sensory-motor skills. In fact, people will not always have the same experiences with any mental or developmental disorders — it’s entirely dependent on the individual.

As someone on the autism spectrum, I have to admit that it’s a little difficult to imagine the life of a non-autistic person. I can’t picture myself not being very sensitive to heat and cold or not being socially awkward. Asperger’s syndrome has been a part of my life since I was born.

I guess if I had to say something, though, it’s sort of like being a foreigner from a different country and having to learn the language and customs. Things feel similar to your own country, but learning to adjust to the differences is difficult. But once you’ve mastered that, it doesn’t erase the fact that you’re a foreigner. No matter what, you’ll always stand out in some way.

Now, that isn’t to say being on the spectrum is horrible. On the contrary, I find it annoying when people pity me for being different or because I “don’t understand”. It’s insulting, not just to me, but to others on the spectrum as well, regardless of what the intent was. Just because we might not pick up on social cues or have a vastly different outlook on life than most people, it doesn’t mean that we’re unable to learn.

But I digress.

Asperger’s has had its perks growing up. For instance, as I have a passion for writing (especially creative writing), I always did really well in English class, especially when it came to essays and vocabulary tests. I also have very sensitive hearing, so if someone needs help but no one can hear them, I can hear them and help them to the best of my ability.

I think the point I’m trying get at is: autism isn’t that bad. I mean, yes, there are times where we struggle with socializing and sensory-motor skills. With a bit of support and understanding, we get by pretty well on our own. I believe that there are people out there who need to be reminded of that sometimes.

There are pros and cons to everything. Autism is no exception.

Sara Breidenbach is an intern helping with Aspiring Youth summer camps. She is also a student at Bellevue College where she will graduate with an Associates Degree in Digital Media Arts in the fall of 2016.