What Autism Means to My Family and Me. When I was little it gave me extra energy and drove people around me crazy. My grandparents could not believe how smart I was. When I was eighteen months old we went on a trip to the smoky mountains. My grandmother said during the trip, “look Teddy those are the Smoky Mountains.” I replied, “Those aren’t the Smoky Mountains , those are the Foggy Mountains.”
This is the earliest I can remember my family thinking I was different. I started talking in complete sentences at nine months, I never crawled or babbled. I also started walking around the same time. We would go out to restaurants and waiters would be astounded, that I was talking and ordered my own food.
My parents took me to museums and zoos along with my older cousins. I was curious and wanted to experience everything. Can a one year old want to learn about everything. When I was three years old I did not sleep at night. I was very independent at a young age.
Because of this I decided to go swing in the backyard at three in the morning. My mischief didn’t end there. One night I decided that I would go visit my grandparents while my parents slept. Needless to say, I took a lot out of my parents. On my fourth birthday we stayed at a local hotel.
The whole family was staying in the hotel and we played in the hotel pool all day long. I was not satisfied that I had to go to bed. So I laid still and watched Televison until my parents were fast asleep. Once they were asleep I decided that I would go swim by myself in the middle of the night.
To me it seemed perfectly logical. Why should I have to watch the T.V. all night when the hotel was full of fun things to do instead of watch T.V. My swims suit was wet and cold from swimming earlier so I decided that I would swim in the clothes I came to the hotel in.
So I vicariously grab the hotel room key and make my way to the hotel pool. I was a very good swimmer. I had been exposed to the water since the day I was born. I thought I could swim perfectly at four. not to downplay how dangerous it was that I was swimming unsupervised in the middle of the night but at the age of four you don’t think about what danger there is involved in the fun activity you are about to do.
After swimming for at least an hour I decided it was time to return to the hotel room. I made it back to my hotel room without rousing anyone’s attention. The only thing that gave away what I had just done was the cursing I produced trying to take off my wet clothes. If I was just a little bit quieter I probably could have managed to not get caught red handed. I was a mastermind sneaking from an early age.
When I got an idea in my head, nothing was going to stand in my way. Besides my social skills my autism did not debilitate me, it made me much smarter than the average bear. My intellect has gotten me into more trouble than I could count at a young age. After my years of discovery and my curiosity getting me into trouble, I mellowed out a little bit.
After finally sleeping for the first night in my entire life at the age of seven, I started 1st grade. Public School was a total wake up call for me. Me, the child who wanted to explore and question everything, was a teacher’s worst nightmare. I escaped school to go to my grandma’s house, which was ten feet from the school playground, at least twice. This made the teacher terrified. To lose a child is a teacher’s worst fear.
I did not like public school. It was boring and I spent more time waiting than learning. On top of that because I did not fit the mold of a normal student I was bullied constantly. I did not let that keep me down though. I knew I was meant for greatness and that the kids around me had no direction.
Asperger’s Syndrome is something I have dealt with my entire life, it is a part of me. I do not know what it is like to live without Aspeger’s. Does a woman know how to be anything other than a woman. The children in my school made fun of me for being who I was and I was not going to pretend to be something I am not.
Everyone should be themselves because no matter how long you have that façade eventually you slip up. I have not always had such fantastic social skills. When I was starting school in the first grade their was hardly anyone I would talk to or even look at. I was afraid of interacting with my peers.
I had trouble interacting with people other than my family all together. Sixth grade was my worst year of public education. It was a living nightmare that I could not wakeup from. It has taken a long time to finally forgive my peers and myself for all the torment I received in eight months.
I begged not to go to school every morning because I knew what awaited me upon entering the building. If you haven’t already I have written an entire article about the bullying I received. If you click here you can read more about it. I felt relief when my mother told me that I would not be going back next year.
I was going to be homeschooled. I still felt scared around kids my age until I graduated from high school but that’s for later. After exiting the public school system I was enrolled in an online school to further my education. I had been going to Physical and Occupational Therapy for a few years already but during my first year of homeschooling I was enrolled at Therapy Connections.
Therapy Connections was a world of difference compared to the therapy I was receiving from the Children’s Hospital in Dayton. Therapy Connections helped me in so many ways. One symptom of Asperger’s Syndrome is clumsiness like they don’t know where their body begins and ends. I was very clumsy myself. They taught me tools to speak to other people. How to look them in the eye and conversation starters.
I learned cursive and typing too. It was fun but it was challenging. It was probably the most challenging thing I have ever done besides college biology. I am not very good at science if you can imagine. I tend to look at the world with face value. I don’t like answering questions about the physical world around me.
The only way my mother got me to learn about science was through books about famous scientists, but we should probably get back to the story at hand. After graduating from Therapy Connections I was much more coordinated than when I started. I had tools to carry on and start meaningful conversations.
I was fourteen when I graduated from Therapy connections and my family and the therapy connections staff was so proud of me. Many of the patients who go to therapy connections do not graduate, they simply move on to adult therapy. It is a special day at Therapy Connections when someone graduates therapy.
Can you imagine how depressing it can be to have more than thirty different children that you help during a week and about five of them will graduate from therapy. It is definitely an occasion to celebrate. Graduating means that they have been taught the tools needed to survive in the real world. They can appear to be a productive member of society. The day I graduated Therapy Connections was one of the best days of my life.
It is only rivaled by my college graduation day. Both of these occasions are special to me because they are days that showed all the people who doubted my success how wrong they are. My second grade teacher thought I would never graduate high school and would be scrubbing tables for the rest of my life.
My English teacher Mrs.Eckstein told me that I would never fully understand the English language. My third grade teacher Brandy Aliaga thought that I was such a freak she would put into attention whoever tried to interact with me. Not to mention the numerous students who never thought I would amount to anything.
That is why each success that comes my way is so much sweeter than someone who takes each day for granted. Graduating from college with an associates meant I proved more than one teacher how wrong they are. Learning both Spanish and Japanese proved to Mrs. Eckstein that yes I do understand English.
I understand enough English to be able to learn different languages and grammar structures too. I proved Mrs. Aliaga wrong by acquiring friends and receiving a degree in communication theory. Asperger’s Syndrome to me and my family does not mean anything negative. It just makes me unique.
I think and act in a way that is not standard. Asperger’s does not debilitate me like my nay sayers believe. It makes me better. I may have to work harder to achieve some of my goals but the rewards out way the effort.
I don’t take for granted conversation or friends because I remember what it is like to be silent without a voice. To have no one to empathize with you or share your interests.
The best time of my life was not in school or high school. I still had lessons and things to learn. My time is coming though. A time when I can rise from the ashes of my past and share my story to the world. A time to show the world what all Teddy Frost can do. A time to show the world that Autism does not mean unsuccessful but instead means unique. If you are like me and have struggled for so long don’t lose hope because your time to rise is coming to. Whoever has been bullied, not had a voice, or been friendless don’t lose hope. It is only up from here. This is what Autism means to my family and me.