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My Story with Autism from Then Until Now

This post is from Bo Broadnax, a junior at the University of Cincinnati who is on the autism spectrum. Bo recently received an intership at Barefoot Proximity, an advertising agency in Cincinnati. This post is part of an initiative on our site called “In Our Own Words: Living on the Spectrum,” which highlights the experiences of individuals with autism from their perspectives. 

In the beginning, I did not notice a difference in my behavior from other children. I was in second grade at Wyoming Elm Elementary School. I just thought I was being treated differently. I was taken to a pediatric psychologist who diagnosed me with Asperger’s Syndrome. I was not told I had this diagnosis. My parents (Mom and stepdad Jim) were told. I now know I was not told because I would tell my father about it. My father, to this day, still believes I am “normal” and that I have no disability.

Three years later, when Mom and Jim thought I could handle it, they told me about my disability. This explained a lot of things to me that I hadn’t understood.

School at Wyoming Middle School continued to be rough on me. I was placed into the “special kids” classroom. I hated that. Don’t get me wrong; the teachers were very nice. The thing I hated was walking out of the classroom and being called “retarded.” That word. UGH. No one on this planet is retarded. The only place that word belongs is in sheet music, telling the musician to slow down — and then it is spelled ritard. So the word retard is totally, 100% unacceptable.

In the fall of 2008, I started going to Wyoming High School where I was placed in “special kids” classroom again. It bothered me more because now people would look at me and talk to their cliques about me.

Finally, I was sick of it. My mom pulled me out of Wyoming. She sent me to Starr Commonwealth, a therapeutic boarding school in Albion, Michigan. When I was leaving Wyoming, my classmates had the audacity to act sympathetic and sorry to see me go, which seemed two-faced and ridiculous.

I made some progress at Starr. I got acquainted with some of the students and staff. I still talk to some of them, including one of the Student Service Coordinators, Tony Bentley, who is also a member of the Detroit Fusion Rap band, Of Mice and Musicians.

I left the boarding school and returned to Cincinnati in 2011. I attended my senior year of high school at The Children’s Home of Cincinnati. I liked the Children’s Home because they had a program designed for kids with ASD/AD. I graduated from high school on June 7, 2012. Since then, I have been attending, TAP (Transition and Access Program) at University of Cincinnati.

I like being at TAP. According to the University of Cincinnati website, “The Transition and Access Program is a 4-year, non-degree option for students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities who want to actively engage in the full college experience, including participation in regular college classes, engaging in professional internships, and enjoying an active social life with friends.”

The purpose of the program is to provide the opportunity for all students who desire a postsecondary experience on a college campus to achieve success with appropriate supports. Students who complete the program receive a certificate and have the training and experience necessary for successful competitive employment.

I started work at Barefoot Proximity on May 21, 2014. Barefoot Proximity is an advertising company. They advertise for major companies like P&G and ExxonMobil. It is fun here. I like what I do here. I work at Barefoot Proximity on Wednesdays and Fridays.

In June I started working at Path Forward IT. Path Forward IT is an IT Support center that supports medical offices. My job there is to set up new computers to be deployed to different doctor offices. I have to make sure each machine is set up to the standards for the office that it is going to. Standards include: what applications to install, what version of said applications (Word 2013? 2010? 2007?), which Operating System (Windows XP? Windows 7? Windows 8.1?), and other specifications. I work at Path Forward IT on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

Have a story you want to share for our “In Our Own Words: Living on the Spectrum,” series? Email us at InOurOwnWords@Autismspeaks.org.