Autism Awareness: It’s About the Rest of the Spectrum Too

Brandon Mauk, Digital Sports Editor

The month of April is dedicated to the awareness and acceptance of children and people with autism, a neural disorder that affects the development of a child’s social and communication skills. In 2012, about 20 kids out of  every 1,000 were diagnosed with autism in the United States.

Asperger’s is one of three major disorders recognized in a range of behavioral and developmental disorders forming the autism spectrum. It is a high functioning form of autism that specifically affects social interaction skills and some behavioral patterns that would be considered eccentric. Another major symptom includes the development of intense and sometimes obsessive interests in things, as well as a refusal to try other things.

Some people may not notice that a person has Asperger’s because they seem to be totally normal as they mature, but early on they have trouble fitting in with peers and society. But eventually many of them go on to become very successful in adult life. In a way, I think this is why the general population like way autism doesn’t recognize Asperger’s.

I have Asperger’s syndrome. I was diagnosed when I was about two years old, when I couldn’t really speak yet. My mother told me she was very scared that I would never be able to overcome it or be successful as an adult. Throughout my childhood, I struggled to fit in because my social skills developed very slowly. I developed intense interests in sports, video games and music, and I’m still obsessive about them every day.

Even as a young adult nearing 21-years-old in May, I still am affected by Asperger’s. I have always had trouble adjusting to new things and have fear of meeting new people, speaking in front of groups of people. I sometimes have random, compulsive thoughts when meeting people that I have learned to control, but it makes me appear and feel socially awkward. Even though I am doing very well in college, I still have had trouble making new friends.

Many people with Asperger’s have been able to overcome the disorder and go on to become very successful. Indeed, the disorder mostly affects social skills rather than intelligence.

However, many people believe that the disorder’s effect on social interaction development can lead some people to impulsive, and explosive behavior. Some people have gone out and blamed recent mass shootings on Autism spectrum disorders. I assure you that even if they did have the disorder, they are so few and the stigma is cruel and unfair. We’re not like that at all. It is an unfair stigma that needs to end.

I think people need to be aware of our struggles with Asperger’s and should embrace us. We are normal. We are intelligent. We are inventive. We are strong. We are just like everyone else. We just have trouble fitting in and we need help to find our way from our peers.