What It's Like to Be Me
By William Baron| Published on June 29, 2021 | 8 Minute Read
Hi everyone, I’m Will, I am a 21 year old autistic young adult. It’s probably why you’re reading this. I’m more than happy to tell you about some of my experiences and how I view and interact with the world around me.
I was diagnosed in May of 2008 and like most 8 year olds I loved charging around with my friends, there was one key difference… I didn’t have that many friends nor was I any good at making them. You see, I was always the ‘weird kid’ at school, always doing my own thing in my own little world as it were, some time earlier, so the story goes, my aunt and uncle had got a book about autism and had seen that I matched up with a fair amount of the traits in the book. It was at that point at which they said to my mum to see if I was autistic, lo and behold, we got the diagnosis.
Being autistic can be both a hindrance and a help, I struggle with social cues and socialising although as the years have gone on I have gotten better, but I still struggle, I know enough to not make a fool of myself in a conversation and that’s about it. Making friends can be a struggle, but I can do it. It just takes a while for me to work out what the heck to say to someone.
Stims can also be a slight hindrance, neurotypical folk tend to stop and stare when they see me playing along as it were with one of my favorite cinema organ tracks as I listen to them on my headphones on the bus, same with hand flapping when I get really excited along with springing up and down.
However I wouldn’t swap my autism for the world and here’s why: it has given me the a nigh on encyclopedic knowledge base of special interests, from how thunderstorms generate lightning, to what bus is driving down the road, to knowing what a train is just based on what it sounds like, to being able to recall parts of a concert organ in German and so much more, it’s so much fun to learn stuff.
The perks of being autistic don’t end there, definitely not my special interest in photography and videography, although an expensive one, has given me some chances from managing to photograph a flash of sheet lightning to capturing a silhouette self portrait against a winter sunrise, this special interest has given me the tools and knowledge to chase these ambitions of taking stunning photos.
I would like to raise awareness that autistic people are a lot more capable than people give us credit for, we have our struggles granted, but we will put them aside and show people that we’re made of sterner stuff and can do amazing things!
Like any autistic person I have comfort objects, some more curious choices than others, the myriad of plushies is on one the more shall we say expected and conventional choices, a body pillow with a cover of my pegasus character from the my little pony fandom, again cool but maybe a little unexpected, the 193cm inflatable orca, named Hayley or 190cm tall inflatable horses, named Diamond and Jessica, now thats where things get curious.
These rather large and air-filled comfort objects, unorthodox as they may seem to a neurotypical person, make perfect sense to me, allow me to elaborate, while they may be marketed as aquatic toys and decoration items, I wholeheartedly think of them as a smaller family to me, the sensory feedback is pretty cool the material is smooth and yet soft but also squishy add the sense of pressure and it’s a recipe for sensory calming.
They also serve as a way to practice social skills before trying it out for real, and when the day is done they make excellent snuggle buddies, they’re just like large teddy bears just cooler and minus the fuzz and and more unique.
My grasp of things to say comes from echolalia, which is a fancy way of saying I pinch words and phrases from TV shows, movies and youtube videos and incorporate them into my day to day dialect and vocabulary. I’ll think nothing of saying “what the hay!” “What in the haystack!” “oh horse apples” “great applesauce” or “oh hayseed” and they’re just the pony examples which are linked to one of my special interests, beats swearing like a sailor!
Music is a big help to me, from the beat of a band like Rush or Queen to the thunderous roar of a concert or cinema organ singing on full bore it's always enjoyable. Music to me is the gift that keeps on giving, from being able to talk I have loved to sing, it's one of my stims almost! The thing I love about singing is there’s a song out there for everyone, I like to try all different disciplines. One minute I could be singing along to something liturgical, the next I could be singing a big broadway number. It all depends on what's next in my playlist.
I haven’t been advocating that long, I only really started around April this year, I started because I would like to raise awareness that autistic people are a lot more capable than people give us credit for, we have our struggles granted but we will put them aside and show people that we’re made of sterner stuff and can do amazing things!
About the Author
Howdy folks, I'm Will, I'm a 21 year-old autistic young person, I was diagnosed in 2008 and really enjoyed my special interests on subjects like the national grid, railways, transport in general and so much more!!