October 3, 2011
My name is Nick, and I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 13. When I was told about it, I thought it was the end of the world. I acted out way too much in school. When one little thing went out of normal, I lost it. I didn't have a lot of close friends in school because of it, and for years I spent a lot of time in my room. In all honesty, though, school wasn't too bad. I loved going to school sporting events whenever I could, and I was active in band, chorus and drama club. But why was hanging out with classmates after school outside of my house so hard for me? I certainly didn't have a problem at school speaking out (meaning all the times I was sent to the principal's office for being disruptive). But it got easier in time.
After a recent move in high school, my mom and I were watching this movie about twin autistic boys trying to cope with living with autism. During the closing credits, I looked at my mom and the first words out of my mouth were, "That's me. It's not the end of the world after all." It was then I realized that I didn't have a "problem" at all. I was my own person. I graduated from high school in the top 10 percent of my class, with a scholarship for college. But I still had one thing I needed to do for myself -- being able to talk about my autism.
Two years after high school, I started working at a customer service center for a major office supply company when, during training, I met this kid about my age named Stephen. We got to talking one day on a lunch break, and became really close friends. He was as outgoing as I am, so it was easy striking up a friendship. One day while we were on a break, we were talking about what only our closest friends know about us. I knew then it was time I had to say something about being autistic. I told him. His response was, “Really!? But you're as outgoing as I am. I would never have been able to tell." The only thing I felt silly about at that moment was making such a big deal out of it for so long.
It's been a long struggle, but in talking about it I have a saying, “I have it; it doesn't have me.” I'm 21 now, and my life is pretty normal, with the occasional speed bump. I still have my days where it all resurfaces, but give me a moment or two, and it's all good. I don't like to be in large crowds too much, and at times I'm a little uneasy meeting new people, but it falls right into place easily. I have a group of friends I hang out with on occasion, and I'm still as into music and theater as I was when I was growing up. I don't see being autistic as a disability (I hardly ever use that word anyway), but as a different way of thinking than most everyone else.
April 10, 2013
The Autism Society, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots autism organization, has chosen Pittsburgh as the host city of its 44th annual conference on autism spectrum disorders.
April 5, 2013
Individuals with autism can attend the Autism Society National Conference and Exposition (in Pittsburgh) for FREE this year! Learn more: www.autism-society.org/conference.
April 3, 2013
Monarch Teaching Technologies, the makers of VizZle®, web-based educational software for visual learners with autism, will give one-year of free VizZle to every new (or renewing) Champion Member during April.
April 2, 2013
Read the Autism Society’s digital magazine about autism spectrum disorders!
April 2, 2013
Today, throughout the world, individuals will come together highlighting the needs and dreams of people living with autism.