We hear about autism a lot; that the rates of autism in children is increasing, that most people are on an autism scale etc. But do we actually know what it is? Or what it’s like to live with autism? This informative interview with Brandon gives us an insight into the life of people with autism.
Hi Brandon, how are you?
I’m good, thanks.
What is autism?
I have high functioning autism and it is a disorder that in my case affects my sociability, communication and how I perceive facial expressions and stuff like that.
With what I’ve seen and heard of low functioning autism, it affects language skills. Many people I see with it have to use a word processor and have an aid with them. A lot have these gestures that they do, some suffer from epilepsy and memory impairment.
Tell us about your autism.
So I was born 25 weeks early and because I was born early I had many problems, like underdeveloped lungs, eye hemorrhages and translucent fingers.
Since I had a 50% chance to live, the doctors did everything they could to save me. They used a few experimental procedures like this tube that gave me oxygen. They inserted it into my neck, but we later found out some of the chemicals used in it caused my autism. I got PTSD from all the medical trauma I went through and also got aspergers syndrome.I also had to be in the ICU for 3 months because they had to give me steroids to grow my lungs.
What’s it like living with autism?
Uh. Pretty difficult. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not really social. I mean I make friends and all but I’m pretty shy and I’m always scared of talking on the phone and I’m also scared of dating because I’ve been dumped before. Also I have executive functioning issues and it’s just hard for me to focus on stuff.
Now granted I think because of it I’m smarter and more focused on academics. For instance I’ve always been an avid reader. And by 6th grade I was reading at a college age level. But it’s the social aspect that’s affected.
What about school life?
I went to a private school for people with disabilities from 3rd grade to 10th grade. During 11th grade I started part timing at a mainstream school.That means I went there in the morning and came back to my private school later.
This helped ease me in to mainstream school.The schools were vastly different.So at the private school, they wouldn’t let you talk about sex, drugs, etc. It was like a bubble. It did help me improve my social skills and temper etc. But they were restrictive and conservative unlike the mainstream school.
Are you in college at the moment?
Yes, I’m at community college at the moment and I’m planning on getting my associates degree in biotechnology. I hope to then transfer to UMUC or preferably a 4 year institution to get my bachelors. Then start working in a local company while studying for my masters or phd.
What else can you tell us about being autistic?
Autistic people are very creative and imaginative. I know some cyber security professionals look for them because they can look through long lines of code or spot small errors others might gloss over.