When I was just a small child, my parents and teachers noticed something different about me. They noticed that I wasn’t communicating properly with the other kids in the class. When I went on to Junior Infants my teachers noticed traits of behaviour similar to what I experienced in Pre-School. My parents at that time where concerned that I wasn’t progressing as well as the other students in the class. They brought me to specialists who determined that I did have a unique condition as I like to call it. If the title did not give it away for you let me explain it to you this way – “Hi, my name is Adam and I was diagnosed as being on the Autistic spectrum at the age of 4.”
It’s been a while since I last typed a blog, but ever since I wrote my first back in Transition year, I always wanted to write a one about my life with Autism. I never could though, the reason being I was afraid of people looking at me differently. I know some people have this perception of an Autistic person being socially awkward and in a world of their own. But every single individual with this type of diagnosis is unique in their own way. I have grown up with many fascinating people with Autism who see the world a whole lot differently than people who are not on this Spectrum and the same goes for me.
For me, growing up with Autism felt like being normal. When I was in Scoil Triest, a school specifically designed for children with the same diagnosis that I have, I felt like this was how school was meant to be. I did not know I had Autism until the age of 12. I believe I was watching TV and an ad came on. It was a for a U.S. charity called ‘Autism Speaks.’ I asked my mother “What is Autism?” and she said to me that “it is a condition which you have” and I just nodded like “oh okay.” It wasn’t until years later, when I did my research, that I understood what this disorder actually meant.
I was in Scoil Triest for 3 years and the teachers thought I was progressing extremely well and suggested I move on to mainstream school. That took me to South Abbey. Let me tell you, my first day there was the biggest shock to my system! It was completely different to what I was used to but I got through it thanks in part to my S.N.A and my teachers. Looking back on that time I can see how far I have come. Even though I had Autism, I was still going through what normal kids my age where going through.
Fast forward to Secondary school which was another big change. It was a struggle being there for those 6 years. Those struggles made me a better person.
In 4th year we went on a trip to Delphi, which is up in Galway ,and this was going to be the first time in my life I was going to be away from my parents. I was very shy at that time when I was away from my parents. I didn’t like staying away from them because I was so used to their company and, of course, a routine which is very common for people with autism. Even though the trip was only for two days, that was a lot to deal with at the time. I had to ring my parents every night because I was so terrified at everything. I felt I couldn’t tell any of my friends because I was really scared about being teased over it. I got through it and was so happy when it was over. I still to this day get nervous in those types of situations and if it wasn’t for the kind staff up there I would not have been able to get through it alone.
Today I am in U.C.C. and have proven a lot of people wrong during my life. I am still struggling, even today, with adjusting to college life because it is so different to what I was used to when I was in school – which was a routine. Whenever I tell someone I am Autistic they are usually shocked and some think I am lying! There was one person who would not even talk to me because she thought I was making fun of it (don’t worry, we’re still friends!).
Even with all that said I must remember what I have accomplished. I am just so happy that I make my parents proud each and every single day. I will never forget how upset they were because I wasn’t progressing well with people and society. They don’t have to worry anymore as now I can talk away to anyone!
I realise that not everyone is able to be as independent as me or to manage some of the challenges the condition presents.
I am glad I have this diagnosis because I feel like I, and many others who have the condition, and have gone through what I have been through have shown Autism in a different light. We have proven that we can adjust to society just as well as people with no diagnosis of Autism. I am the same as everyone else, I just have a condition that makes me unique. This blog might not be written very well but it is just something different like me!
I just want to thanks my parents, family, friends, teachers, counsellors and everyone else who has been there for me through highs and lows, stuck by me and are still helping me to this day.I love those people so very much. One of the best things that has ever been said to me was by my dad “Adam, everyday is going to be a fight for you. But you are getting through it each and everyday.”
By Adam Kennefick