Age When Diagnosed: 9
Located: Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Independent Autism Advocate and Speaker
I was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 9. Before I was diagnosed I seemed to be a fairly ‘normal’ kid who just loved life, however that changed when I reached primary school. For the first two years, I mostly sat in class with the occasional bit of pencil sharpening. I couldn’t even read until grade 2 and if the constant bullying and lack of understanding wasn’t bad enough it got worse after my diagnosis.
When I was diagnosed with Autism, my school started to treat me differently as though they suddenly knew how to ‘fix’ me. I was put into special classes that seemed like a waste of the teacher’s time as I either already knew how to do something, or I just found it boring and pointless such as reading a phonebook. Life didn’t get much better when I reached secondary school as I saw my diagnosis as a bad thing that I should be ashamed of. This was also the year I found out just how far I was behind all my peers. My first semester reports showed that I was two years behind in math alone and that I needed immediate help. I began to doubt that I could ever reach year 12 let alone finish it. That is where my wonderful mother stepped in to help. After school each night throughout year 7 she taught me a total of 3 years’ worth of math just so I could be at the same level as everyone else.
I believe that a world that accepts and embraces Autism is possible. We just have to work towards it.