I am volunteering for Human Library Chicago under the book title “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” With how prevalent autism spectrum disorders have become, there is still much that is not understood about them. Furthermore, the use of the word “spectrum” can be overlooked–even people on the same “functional” area of the autism spectrum may have completely different personalities and such. Therefore, one of my reasons for volunteering is to share my story of living on the autism spectrum. Another goal of mine is to attempt to break down the pre-judgment that can come with the labels.
Just because I hold a label, I am not any less capable of functioning and thriving independently. I certainly struggled in social situations when I was a child, but with loving parents and supportive teachers, I was able to use speech therapy to improve my social interactions with my peers. This also taught me social mores that may seem innate to others, such as eye contact, taking turns while speaking, and listening. This was challenging for me, but the ability to learn it convinces me that I can do anything. It has also allowed me to blossom socially, through various activities in which I have engaged, such as contract bridge, bike riding, and sporting events.
In spite of the social awkwardness that I can have, Asperger Syndrome gives me a different way of looking at the world. It may sometimes be pedantic, literal, and analytic, but there exist problems in the world which do not respond to so-called conventional thinking. This can be both an asset and a liability, but through my experiences, emphasizing the positives has been tantamount.