Living With Autism in The Classroom
By Kristofor Medina of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered
Living with autism in the classroom is talking about a place of sensory overload. In the classroom, there are quite a lot of overwhelming sounds. Put yourself in a time machine and travel to a place where you are the only person, and the place is filled up with loudly talking, playful, particles of time. It wasn’t always easy paying attention while talking to people. Their voices were quite painfully loud. To a person with autism, it‘s like people racing through tall, quick-tapping, quite loud talking tornados. It was tough at times to walk around people or objects through the quick world. People without autism can tolerate quite a lot of stimuli, while people with autism try their hardest to navigate places in which they can function. In the classroom, I put energy into everything I worked on. Everything was difficult to accomplish. People supported me with my work, but sometimes I became angry because my mind worked and my body did not.
I have typed since third grade. Many people did not think it was me speaking. I have learned over the years to ignore and persevere. I spent years in the classroom with people that talked with their voice to communicate while I sat alone and typed one paragraph at a time. Typing and communicating are the same. Without typing, people would not know my intelligence. I would work alone on things too easy for my intellect.
In high school, I was alone a lot of the time. It was too difficult for me to be with all of the other like-minded kids. I was put in a room, so that I could concentrate. Putting people in quiet places allows them to think and work. Typing saved me from a lot of lonely days. I was placed in an isolated area. A lot of my conversations were with staff. I tried so hard taking people’s cues for social acceptance, but people were sometimes cruel to me. Putting up with people brought on anxiety and quite a lot of frustration. I had to quickly ignore and gain composure. I typed to release pressure from the greatly-anxious talking me. The autism in me would not allow a social life outside of planned peer interactions. I wasn’t able to talk about the things that were important to me. People chose our conversations, it was very disheartening.
In the classroom, I was putting presentations on and getting really good grades. I tried every day to have a positive attitude. I wanted to put everything into my schoolwork. I worked on typing my words so that all people would pay close attention and pay respect to my powerful being. I am a man possessing many wonderful qualities. I am proud of all of the things that I’ve accomplished. I worked every day on regulation and worked on all aspects of school. Politically I lack intelligence, quite the opposite is true. Please accept people for who they are and do not judge. Everyone is unique and beautiful. When speaking about autism in the classroom, remember: all students learn differently.