Sometimes, discovering that you are on the autism spectrum can be both surprising and confusing. Developing a better understanding of autism can come with talking to others about your feelings and spending time with people similar to you. In this week’s blog, guest blogger Donnie Haig reflects on his experience with finding self-awareness and confidence with autism.
Being on the spectrum of autism is something that has completely changed my life and is something that will continue to affect me as I grow older. However, while this notion may come across as somewhat alarming, it is something that I have grown to accept with a feeling of happiness.
The first time that I heard that I was on the autism spectrum, I felt many emotions and a pure lack of understanding. The idea of being on the autism spectrum was completely alien to me. However, this newfound awareness of having autism was something that I felt like I needed to develop to help myself understand what it truly meant to live on the spectrum.
My first experience with others that were on the spectrum was when I attended elementary school. It was a private school that was newly established in my area and focused purely on helping children with autism. It wasn’t until I attended this school that I learned much more about myself and the world around me. Instead of putting me into the rough and tough world of public middle school, my parents found that being with children similar to me would benefit me the most. By having people who understood my disabilities, I learned to cope with autism. Through a wide variety of classes, my chaotic mind was shaped much more clearly to be in tune to facing challenges and social scenarios that were previously nerve wracking. Instead of being scared or narrowly focused about the challenges I would face, I was able to find myself pushing forward into them.
Another way that I found awareness with autism stemmed from fostering an open discussion of how I felt and options to deal with those feelings. At first, the idea of having to talk to someone else about my feelings was scary to me. While I had first considered myself to be fine dealing with autism alone, the idea of going through therapy seemed intimidating. It wasn’t until I started my first session with my therapist that I realized how differently my world view would be shaped afterwards. Through many different sessions, I learned that my disability was something I could not let define me. I could not let it constrain my every action. After going through separate tests and other studies, I found myself a lot more aware of the person I was becoming.
These experiences have benefited me because I’ve realized that the only thing that truly limits me with the disability I have is myself. Life is about always moving forward into a future that we make. Through our actions and beliefs, we can find ourselves down paths that we forge as individuals. Life isn’t about how we define the paths we take with the disabilities we have, but the abilities we have that move us forward.
About the Author
Donnie Haig is a 24 year old student that's currently studying at Saint Leo University. He is pursuing a major in religion and has been through two different colleges. He currently resides in Texas and is looking forward to experience all it has to offer.