This guest post is by Phil Martin, an adult on the autism spectrum and one of our volunteers for our Autism Speaks DC Chapter. You can learn more about Phil's photography that he does here. 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.
I was diagnosed with autism in my early teens. Although I had spent all of my life struggling with the signs, help wasn't offered until I was well into my teen years. I had spent most of my grade school years struggling with attendance and participation but it didn't become severe until I was in high school. I would have mild panic attacks every morning while on the way to school in the car. My mother had to drive me everyday because I would purposely miss the school bus because I had a fear of entering an atmosphere where every single person would be looking at me when I entered. The 4 years following my diagnosis, I began to lose the hate and embrace who I am. I began working as an EMT and I joined the fire department.
What does Light It Up Blue mean to me? Light It Up Blue gives autism a platform to help bring understanding and inspiration to the community. On World Autism Awareness Day, I feel that the spotlight is on me and everyone with autism. Since being diagnosed with autism, I've felt in the dark more than I have understood. I feel that autism is this grey area that no one outside of autism understands and most don't want to attempt to understand. For me, #LIUB is an opportunity not only to bring awareness in our communities by lighting it up blue but an opportunity for us to take over new media and shine a light on all of the wonderful people with autism!
Although we never really stop promoting awareness, during #LIUB, there really is a spotlight shining on autism awareness.