“It has been said that time heals all wounds. I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue, and the pain lessens, but it is never gone.”
I’ve asked myself over the years, “What is normal?” I spent years yearning to be normal. I was so different. I hated myself for most of my life because no matter how hard I tried I would never be what others wanted.
It’s hard to be so desperately self-aware. It had been a curse. Being different left me prone to many harmful circumstances. I was told to stand up for myself, but was never taught the skills to do so. Not knowing how to behave or communicate made life painful. And Autistics don’t come with the manual. Many times I thought death would be better than living.
My first memories of bullying started in the Second grade. I was an easy target as I was developmentally behind other students. I had a teacher that hated me and made sure I knew it. She would call me a liar when I told her how I was being treated. I didn’t even feel human that year. Even though we are Autistic and young we still feel the ugliness.
In Third grade I was much happier because I had a patient teacher who treated me fairly. She was a young woman recently graduated and was open minded about learning styles. She revised her curriculum to teach the ways students learned. I have fewer bad memories from that year.
In Fourth grade I had an old witch of a teacher. She had no to time for me. I never was rewarded like the other kids. I never got student of the week. I was never given a chance and she was very unwilling to work with me. It’s difficult feeling helpless to a teacher and the students that follow her example.
Middle school was Hell. At the beginning of the year I had managed to make a few friends. Of course, this didn’t last very long and I was alone again. It was much more entertaining to insult me and put rude signs on my back. Fifth grade was the year I first became depressed, I was so naive I didn’t know what was happening.
Later on, in years Seven and Eight I was spit on, strangled, and beaten up. I was taught that standing up for myself had consequences. My Mother fought hard and advocated for me but the teachers just ignored my torture. This is why so many children fall through the cracks.
I remember being humiliated on the school bus. None of the other students would let me sit. When the bus driver turned around to yell at me to sit the kids made room for me. I looked like a liar. At my stop the driver took off before I was completely off the bus causing me to fall.
Eighth grade was the year I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation and later homeschooled. I have been in-patient for a total of 3 times spanning 5 weeks.
Things got better when I went to Chartered, Murray High School. Here the teachers were invested in my wellbeing and I was surrounded by people similar to me. The curriculum was designed around my IEP and my needs were tended to. I graduated with honors and won the award for best artist.
I have learned many people want to appear sensitive to Autism but when confronted want nothing to do with it. Just ignore us and we will go away… Foster out talents and we will flourish. Learn to accept our opposite thinking style and let us speak for ourselves.
I have a voice. I will talk loudly untillI am heard. No longer will I suffer in silence. I will share my experiences with honesty, understanding, and acceptance. I have risen above it. I am a kinder, softer person. My life was hard, but it can only get better.