When I heard I had the chance to voice my personal thoughts on what it’s like to have autism, I leapt at it because this was a chance to show people my perspective on what autism is to me.
I remember last summer my family was over at a friend’s house and there was a little boy who stood out from everyone else. He had eerily similar behaviors to me when I was that age. For example, he wouldn’t respond to people calling him, he had an obsessive interest in his little toy and he was followed constantly by his dad to stop him from going into the street. He was what appeared to be 6 or 7 years old so I knew something was up. I asked my mom what was happening and she told me what I had known already: he had autism. She suggested that I speak to his parents and try to help them.
I never knew myself as the one to talk to parents of people with autism, but I went over anyway. I introduced myself by saying “Hi, I’m Eric and I have autism like your son.” They questioned me vigorously and I easily answered their questions about autism, like:
“Why does my son obsess with wheels?” (I explained that the repetition calms him down)
“Does my son hear me when I call my name?” (No, I said. I remember being so focused on something that I blanked out everything around me except for my object of interest, even to the point that everything around me was silent).
After speaking with these parents for several more minutes, they repeatedly thanked me and my mom. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my mom explained to me later that I helped them understand their son just a little bit better. Right now, as I type this, I have a big smile across my face knowing that maybe I have the ability to help parents with kids like me, and help the kids, too.
Felecia (Eric’s Mom) writes:
I am so incredibly proud of my son, and our whole family, for the way Eric handles himself. I think Eric is so willing to speak about his autism and seek out others to help because, as a family, we have always accepted that Eric has autism. We’ve worked hard to understand how Eric experiences the world. At times we have struggled to make sense of his behaviors and his approach. The hardest part has been to get our other children to come with us on this lifetime journey…but really, the bottom line has always been: what choice do we have?