A friend sends e-mails occasionally describing her observations of the world as viewed through the lens of Asperger’s. She is a high school student who deals daily with issues related to her autism. and she has several friends who are diagnosed on the spectrum autism. Her insights and observations give us a glimpse into the intriguing world of autism.
As my friend reads more about autism, she realizes that several of her long time habits may be related to her autism. For example, she is very focused on dates and times, and she likes deep pressure and hugging. She has learned to suppress her desire to rock, flap her hands, and “stim” in the presence of other people.
Among other issues, this teen-aged student writes frequently about her rather obsessive interest in two celebrities. Every single day she wears a t-shirt selected from her large collection of shirts featuring these celebrities. She only wears other clothing when forced to by her parents. Is this interest the result of typical adolescent “fan-club” behavior, or an obsession related to her autism? More than likely, both adolescence and autism are contributing factors.
Although she realizes that she is rather compulsive, this teenager diagnosed with autism says she thinks all high school students could be considered obsessive. She wrote that “lunch is from10:44 a.m. to11:32 a.m. I eat my lunch then I go into the hallway to listen to my iPod for the rest of the period. I just don’t see how people sit around the lunch table for an entire 48 minutes jabbering away.” She said she didn’t have any interest in just sitting around and talking about irrelevant topics.
My friend recently wrote, “I also have a thing about brushing hair. I feel like lots of people obsess over brushing their hair. I see people brush their hair before and after PE and again when they go into the bathroom at lunch. They probably brush it again dozens of other times during the day. I feel like average high school students are obsessed with their hair.” She is probably right.
Because she has several friends with autism and because she has researched the topic, this young lady realizes that her autism does not affect her life as significantly as it does many others. But she is learning that her life is not the same as the “NT’s” in her school. (NT is a term this teenager uses for “neurotypical” people.)
I’ve certainly benefited from my friend’s willingness to share her observations and insights about autism and its effect on teenagers and their families. We welcome input from anyone with autism who is willing to share their thoughts with the FAQautism.com readers. Just send a message to talk@FAQautism.com or click on the comments button.
NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me an email with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. Send email to talk@FAQautism.com And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism. http://FAQautism.com