This guest post is by Jennifer Rose, a young woman on the autism spectrum who is current a student at Drew University.
“Mom always tells me to celebrate everyone's uniqueness. I like the way that sounds.”
While Mom and Dad are certain that I will graduate from college, hold a job, get married, and eventually have children, they also know I will be different from other people.
I always knew I was different. That’s what being one of the only special needs kid at your school for most of your childhood does to you. But I rarely thought of myself as autistic. I wanted to do what normal kids did, like have sleepovers and join Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts worked out horribly for me, but that’s another story. (“Don’t worry about it, Jenny,” my Dad told me. “I only lasted a year in the Cub Scouts. Then I was court-martialed.”)
Now I realize that having autism has left me different from other kids, and that’s okay. Regardless of how “normal” I try to be, autism will always be a part of me. Not all of me, but still a part of me.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As long as I don’t get upset, or obsess, I’m fine. While I understand why helping kids with autism recover is necessary, I also understand some autistic people don’t want to be cured, and that’s okay. Mom once told me “You have the right kind of autism. You think outside the box.” In fact, a lot of creative minds, from Tim Burton to Michael Jackson, may have had autism.
At school people accepted me despite my differences. In 6th grade I had difficulty finding my way around the building (autism can do that to you), so other girls helped me find my way around. I would joke with them about the part of Horton Hears a Who (one of my favorite movies) where the puffball, Katie, says “In my world, everyone’s a pony, and they all fart rainbows and poop butterflies!” While these jokes sounded immature for an 11-year-old, the girls still joked around with me.
I may be a quirky person, but that’s okay. It’s part of who I am.