This piece was written by one of our wonderful students.
Hey, it’s me. The one you chose to make unique. I wanted you to know that you are a blessing and a curse. You make my life unique, all right. Thanks to your magic, I have trouble making friends and keeping them. I have trouble reading facial expressions and body language, thanks to you. We didn't know you and I shared a brain till I was eleven years old. For a long time, you spilled under the radar of teachers, doctors, and my parents. They thought you would just go away. Boy, were they wrong. Because you were untreated, you grew stronger. You were starting to control me around age six. I was sweet and adorable one minute, the next a screaming and crying mess. I was screaming because you won't let me use my mouth to tell them what I needed. But here's something you need to know, I grew stronger because of you.
I learned to channel you, like seven years later, into art. You and I became best friends. I'm getting ahead of myself. In first grade would be the last time we sat in a mainstream classroom. You laughed at my meltdowns. You laughed at my pain. You smiled. I still remember the day we got our first one-on-one aide. I was so angry that you continued to laugh. I can't remember her if it killed me. I hated her because it was yet another thing that made me different. One more reason for the other kids to make fun of us. Nobody ever wanted to play with me because of you. You screwed me over. Honestly, you hurt me and there are times when I want to cut you out of my brain. I'm hardwired to see, feel, and understand things differently.
We hate the feel of certain textures like wool, burlap, and felt on our body. We hate the taste of peanut butter, avocados, and tomatoes. The peanut butter feels like a thousand grains of sand of been put in our mouth. It makes us want to throw up. Wool makes our skin crawl. The feeling is like ants crawling all over you, but you can't kill the ants. They creep and crawl until you remove the wool, then they are killed.
Thanks to you I can't tell who is being fake nice to me. I rely on other people’s opinion to tell me what to think. You tell me I can’t stand loud noises, crowds and bright lights. You are the cause I don't enjoy parties or dances. But the odd thing is I enjoy amusement parks. I have a love of roller coasters because we love the wind whipping past our face and the click-clack of the roller coaster track. Certain noises such the scraping of a metal fork against teeth or the clinking of plates or glasses makes us cover our ears. The sound we felt ten times louder than a neurotypical person would hear. So we chose places like Taco Bell or a pizzeria where paper and plastic are used because they are sensory friendly. Our senses are stronger so weird textures, smells and flavors can cause a panic attack or sensory overload. Our best friend understands quite a bit. Sometimes she can tell when a panic attack is coming before us.
Our biggest problem is coping with the world which is why, in every bag, there is a pair of earbuds, a fidget cube, and sometimes we also carry an adult coloring book. These things help us cope with the problems daily life can bring. Some days are so bad that we have to wear noise-canceling earmuffs because even the sound of own breathing can drive us crazy. On those days we do nothing but sit quietly. But on those days we do quite a bit of thinking. We have quite a few ideas. We came up with this idea to write to you on one of those days. I’m finally getting the chance to talk to you and boy does it feel great. I want to thank you for a couple of things like making me different. The two most amazing people in my life love me even more because of you. They love the way we see things and understand things because sometimes we see a solution that they cannot. Our therapist is amazing. She talks to us on a daily basis, not because she has to but because she cares. She is our number one cheerleader on the sidelines. She knows that our future is very bright. The doctors who said we would never live independently are full of trash. As long as we have each other, we will make it in this big, wide, world. Thanks for showing me that just because you’re different, it doesn’t mean you are weird.