There are some things in me that have always been affected by my autism, a lot of things. It mainly affected my speech and social skills. Even when I was 3 years old I still couldn’t spit out a lot of words and when I turned 4 everything stayed the same. I could only point at things, or mumble in my own language that only my mum and twin sister could understand. My mother had to get in touch with my school and they had me go through speech therapy. They did their best and once they were done they realised that mainstream wasn’t for me, so they transferred me to a school that helps out people like me. With their help, I managed to say a few words and I got myself out of the mumbling, although I’m still a bit tongue tied. Therapy wasn’t the only thing that helped me with my speech. Parts of the media such as films or shows helped me with my vocabulary, humour and writing style, which you know is what I am doing right now. But it’s kind of funny to think about how 10 years ago I couldn’t even manage to say one sentence and yet here I am now writing some of my experiences in full sentences.
Learning how to speak wasn’t that tough but one challenge that was more difficult was how to use speech, or in simpler terms; socialise.
Oh boy what a journey I had with this one.
I always seemed to struggle with my own anxiety. If I was in a club or on holiday I wouldn’t go on the dance floor. When it’s playtime in my school I wouldn’t really play with others. I don’t know if I ever had a best friend. Here my mum had to help out, she called Social Services to get a carer who would take me and others out to activities. Unfortunately I left after some time because I didn’t “act” well with others. This meant I then had to change my carer.
Eventually I became 13 and officially a teenager, but I still couldn’t find a nice group outside school. My biggest worry was that I would end up in a group that doesn’t accept what I have in me. And then one day I managed to find my footing through a group of young reporters. Like these days I do have a lot of people to talk to, but there was something different with those reporters. Perhaps it was because they instantly understand me, or accept who I am, or they have my sense of humour.
Perhaps the biggest part may be is that when I interact with them it’s like I no longer have autism in me. It’s like I finally found my place in this small town. And even though my journey hasn’t ended yet I feel like being with the group is a fitting touch in my life and it makes me enjoy where I am now.
I sometimes see people trying to represent autism with a picture of jigsaw pieces. I don’t really know why they use that. I have a lot of guesses as to why. Some are positive others are negative. I believe that the jigsaw is a symbol of hope. That it tells a story of a little boy who was born on that spectrum. The kid struggled into knowing how things around them worked, communicating, socialising and other things. This kid was going to have a journey of self-discovery as they are going to cope with the things around them and develop with his own skills. And it felt like this kid was trying to put the pieces in his mind together. I think that the speech and socialism would be the two main pieces. And all that makes for an epic journey. I sure did have one and the most important part of that story is how it lead me to where I am now. And I will always enjoy that. But what’s more exciting is that the journey isn’t over yet and it’s always thrilling to think about the future.
Article by Young Reporter Thomas Lindley
Appeared in Grimsby Telegraph 17th September 2019