My name is Erin. I’m 23 years old, and I want to help others understand what my life is like living with Asperger Syndrome. My hope is that people can learn from what I have been through and apply it to what may help someone they know on the spectrum. To me, autism isn’t a death sentence. It’s just a different lifestyle.
Growing up was confusing to me. For my whole life, it felt like no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get things right. People gave me strange looks. They became angry over things which didn’t make sense to me. It seemed to me that people were just being nit-picky. I tried to tell them that I was lost, but no one seemed to hear me. In 10th grade, after 15 long, tiring years, I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Of course, at that time, I didn’t know what it was. I shrugged off this “official” diagnosis, because after all, I hadn’t changed.
What I wasn’t expecting was for people to stop being so mad at me. They began to listen. I studied more about what Aspergers was, and my life began to make sense. Now that people had started listening, I felt maybe I could get across what I had been trying to say before. I made a website, and I started to blog about what my life is like. I realized that people who are not on the Autistic Spectrum think, feel, and live differently. It is my job to teach them about what it’s like for me.
My desire to advocate stemmed from this need I felt to “save” other people on the Autistic Spectrum. I needed to spare them from going through the same horrible experience of misunderstanding that I’d had before I was diagnosed. I needed to be, for others, the person who I’d never had for myself. That person would have been someone who was aware of my struggles, accepted me for who I was, and understood me.
As I have learned through years of advocating, I cannot speak for anyone else but myself. Each person on the spectrum is an individual. However, I now realize that what I have to say can still give others an insight to what I experience.
Advocating is very hard to do. You have to have enough confidence to believe in yourself and know what you are saying is the truth. You have to care enough to help others, but you have to love yourself enough to care about helping yourself, too. You have to have a strong enough way to communicate your ideas, and you need to be consistent. Last and most important (at least of what I can think of for now), you need to be a very positive thinker. There is so much negativity in the world of advocating, and you need to have a way to keep some people from bringing you down while helping to lift others up at the same time.
- Developing Self-Advocacy Skills to Last a Lifetime
- Self-Advocacy in an IEP Meeting
- Climbing the Tree