Hear from Rhoderick this Autism Acceptance Week

Updated: 31 March 2022 at 14:51pm

This week is Autism Acceptance Week (formerly known as Autism Awareness Week), the aim of which is to help more people understand what autism is, as well as the ways it can affect life for Autistic people.

We caught up with one of our Phoenix Foundations Interns, Rhoderick to hear his thoughts on Autism and dealing with it, personally.

“Autism is a Learning Disability - I think it’s to do with the mind. Autism can make it more difficult to socialise and communicate with others. 

Asperger’s is a communication disorder and is under the umbrella term of Autism. I have Asperger’s. I might struggle with social interaction. For example, I might know the answers but I can’t speak them. Talking in person, I might give the impression that I have a weakness in social interaction but that’s only one perspective. I can be seen as mad but I’m not mad. I could say the same thing about others but it’s just that I’m different to the ‘norm’. Who is to say that the norm is right? Or better? Or superior? I think the key here is not to judge others. 

When I am talking, I notice that people look at me. They are wondering “what is this guy is talking about?”. They might think I am weird and don’t get my vibe. When I was younger, it bothered me a lot. I kept thinking about it but as I got older, I stopped caring what people think about me because if I kept caring, it would not help me move forward and I would fail. I can’t be a failure. Even though I struggle to communicate verbally, I am better at writing. Some people think I am talented and gifted at writing. I enjoy writing about the problems in society; I write a lot, I write in the park, I could be anywhere. It is important to me to write about society’s problems because it is something I see. Some people think that I am the only one with issues but you can’t label me as the problem. Writing gives me an outlet for these feelings. If I did not express these things, the feelings would build up and cause frustration. I could become another statistic. Another lost soul.

An issue I am passionate about is preventing people from choosing the wrong path such as hanging around the streets, joining gangs and terrorism. Some people with Autism may struggle with their diagnosis. They may experience exclusion and feel isolated or unloved. In certain groups, some people will do anything to be accepted. I think this makes people with Autism or a Learning Disability at risk because they can be taken advantage of.

However, some people can use a diagnosis as an excuse to justify their behaviour. I wish people would try not to use their diagnosis as an excuse. Just because someone has a Learning Disability, it does not make them an angel. They are human. I am human. I breathe, I bleed, I eat… just like everybody else. It is important to recognise that Autism is a spectrum and that everyone is different and has different capacities. Some people with Autism or a Learning Disability would not understand the subject in which I am writing about. Not everybody can relate to what I am saying. Not everyone can use speech to show their understanding. We are all different.

I wonder if the problem might be that society views Autism in a negative way, or simply doesn’t have the awareness of what it means to have Autism. In this respect, perhaps people try to hide their Autism rather than own it? The biggest message here, for those with or without Autism, is try not to be something you’re not.