In the Heart of Autism post below, 22-year-old Julia Triassi explains how her Asperger syndrome diagnosis in 2010 inspired her to give back to the autism community.
My name is Julia Triassi and I am 22 years old. I always knew there was something different or weird about me. I was kicked out of preschool and was diagnosed with ADHD, developmental delays and PDD-NOS when I was about 3 or 4. Then around age 7 or 8, they took the PDD-NOs away. My mother fought and fought for me to be evaluated for Asperger’s syndrome. Well on April 17, 2010, after a lot of testing by a private psychologist, just a month before graduating high school with a 3.89 GPA I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
When my mom first told me I was being tested for autism, I literally had a meltdown. Afterwards she told me to google it and it was eye opening. I agreed with her. I was one of those people who thought people with autism were not smart, couldn’t talk or do anything on their own, etc. I express myself through art, in my case, photography and drawing. When I am behind the lens I feel like I am not “different”. And although I am very verbal, I still have difficulty sometime expressing myself with words, so I use art as my outlet of expression. I went to college in 2010 and the first time I told anyone about my Asperger’s was when we had to do a newspaper article (not a real one but a mock one) on something that was meaningful to us. I chose autism and the class was very accepting of me.
After that I was involved in the Georgia Autism Speaks walks. I raised money by making friendship bracelets and doing low cost photo shoots with all of the proceeds going to the Autism Speaks Walk. I attended the walk two years in a row and it was amazing. I really started accepting my Aspergers and realizing that I am more than my diagnoses and it cannot and will not stop me.
I also volunteered for a non-profit foundation called A. SKATE (Autism. Skating with Kids through Acceptance, Therapy, and Education) where I helped children on the spectrum ride a skateboard. I myself am an avid skateboarder. I have been doing it for about 10 years and it helps me so much. If I feel like I am going to have a meltdown, I go out and skate and it feels as nothing in the world matters but concentrating on that skateboard and the tricks. So to see these kids go from not wanting to ride the skateboard to not wanting to get off and go faster is amazing. I talked to some of the parents and gave them hope by telling them my story.
I also was chosen by Autism Speaks Georgia to be on a panel at Macy’s IT department about Asperger’s. I recently moved into an apartment and am pretty much independent. I plan on going to college to get a Master’s degree in social work so that I can be a therapist for teens and young adults on the autism spectrum and with other mental health problems. I feel like God puts everyone on earth for a reason and mine is to help and impact people especially with autism. I want to be the change that the world needs to see. I think without an amazing family, especially my mom, I wouldn’t be the same person. I am thankful every day that I have Asperger’s because it helps me and others see the world differently. Currently I am working on a documentary that will be about people with Autism and not only the negatives but the positives.
For more Heart of Autism stories, click here! If you have other ideas for this series that highlights individuals with autism giving back to the autism community, we would love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.