This post is from Marques Carr, a high school senior who has autism. 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. Have a story you want to share for the series? Email us at InOurOwnWords@Autismspeaks.org
When I tell a peer of mine that I have autism, nine out of ten times they would reply with “I never would have thought that you have autism." I have Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), a form of autism and I tend to think that people rarely know about the struggles of the other milder forms of autism on the spectrum. I may have had trouble dealing with my autism in the past, but I used those experiences to become the person I am today.
Before I was diagnosed, my mother took note of my behaviors. She told me that when I was young, I barely spoke to anyone, and I was very introverted. Whenever my cousins come over to play with my siblings, I would find a place to be by myself. It was like I despised social interaction in my youth. It may not have been the case, but my mother knew something was wrong. Before I was placed in public school, my mother had me tested for mental disorders. When I was diagnosed with PDD, the doctors said that I wouldn’t be able to do much as those without the disorder. My mother knew my potential for something more so she decided to not inhibit me and place me in public school.
Growing up as someone on the spectrum, I have had a hard time making friends. I stuttered a lot and was afraid of public speaking. Every time I raised my hand to ask a question or read out loud, many of my peers would complain and attempt to force me to stay quiet. I was also made fun of because of this. Despite the bullying and social problems, my speech skills improved and I found friends who accepted me for who I was.
Academically, I’ve done well in terms of grades, but my difficulties with autism have caused conflict with my school work. I disliked group work and when classwork revolved around working with others, I tended to work alone. When I had trouble with speaking in public, I was afraid of assignments that required us to present in public. This fear had turned into anxiety, and I started having anxiety attacks at night. It wasn't until recently that I was able to control my anxiety and thus able to perform my schoolwork at my best.
Now I’m in my last year of High School. I have changed from those days of my childhood. I have participated in multiple clubs at school, including Student Council and our National Honor Society. I have become so confident in public speaking now that I was chosen to speak at my principal’s farewell ceremony.
I've been able to progress so much that I have been accepted into college. Teachers and mentors alike have praised me for my accomplishments and my attitude change. I would like to thank autism. If it wasn’t for autism, I wouldn’t be myself. I support individuality, and I believe that autism is a part of me.