My Life with Asperger Syndrome
My name is Cameron and I am 17 years old. I have just finished my junior year in high school. I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (AS) when I was eight and in the second grade.
I am the oldest of four siblings; my youngest brother was diagnosed with autism at about the same time as my diagnosis.
Before I was diagnosed with AS, I had many challenges. My mom noticed from a young age that I would sometimes seem deaf—I would ignore everything around me and focus on what I was doing—usually something to do with my Thomas the Tank Engine trains. My speech was difficult to understand, and I was very schedule oriented and did not deal with changes well. I started speech therapy at age 3 and also entered a preschool program for language development at my school.
Some of the challenges I faced early on at school included social and sensory stuff. I hated fire drills, could not stand the loud music the gym teacher played, was obsessed with my schoolwork, and did not know how to join games at recess or socialize with my peers. I had a difficult time communicating with my classmates; I understood their words, but in context I got confused. It was hard to understand the rules of a group and the roles different people played. It was all so confusing to me. I could talk, but I could not communicate. I had good grades, but I was miserable in school. It was very stressful. When I would get off the bus, I would pace between my yard and the neighbor’s for hours some days to relieve the stress my body was feeling.
I would yell at my classmates to be quiet and told on them whenever they broke the rules because I wanted order. My teacher tried to help me by sitting me near her desk, but I really struggled. By second grade, my mom and teacher decided to have me tested by the school district. I was identified with AS. That was the beginning of things getting better. My family, therapists and teachers have always talked openly about me having AS, and are so supportive. I was provided with school accommodations, such as advanced warning for fire drills, permission to leave school assemblies, a “free pass” to the resource area if things got overwhelming, help with organization (I’m still working on that one!) and daily “cool-downs” at the end of the day, along with other sensory breaks.
Reprinted with the permission of the Autism Society.
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