I am Natalie and I have Asperger's Syndrome. One may not realize that an autie, a colloquial term for a person with autism, can do so much while it seems impossible for someone like me to accomplish anything. When I was about four years old, I was found to have Pervasive Developmental Disorder along with Severe Pragmatic Speech and Language Disorder and then, about ten years later, evaluations confirmed that I have Asperger's Syndrome. Currently, I live with my parents. I have two brothers and a very playful and athletic, but mischievous dog named Milo, who occasionally does act like someone with autism. Just because one has autism does not mean he or she is incapable of doing anything, even intrinsically, especially when it comes to expressing emotions. I have a driver's license and a bachelor's degree in History and English from the University of Detroit Mercy, where I graduated magna cum laude in May of 2011.
I have a few friends of my own and I happen to have some acquaintances who have a form of autism in one way or another. While I continue to be repetitious in certain areas of thinking, I can perform several tricks and tasks. I can cook, do my own shopping, swim, whistle, sing, dance, act out on stage, impersonate voices of some cartoon characters and celebrated folks, execute certain vocal sound effects and draw cartoon strips. When I do chores, whether it is disposing of the trash or putting away the filthy dishes into the dishwasher, I usually am self-motivated. In addition, since I know at least a few words from several languages, I have a potential for becoming a polyglot. In terms of athletic and recreation activities, I take long walks and I have an orange belt in therapeutic martial arts. In hippotherapy, I am an independent rider, who is a natural, and I have prospects for archery (that I would like to do). To put it in the words of the noted song from my favorite musical and one of my favorite films, "The Sound of Music," "these are a few of my favorite things." I love traveling, listening to certain types of music, doing research on the internet and on occasion, play pieces by memory and by ear on the piano; however, creative writing is my passion. One of my dreams is to meet my favorite musician, Enya, in person. I also have a zeal for history. If I am looking for fun and would like to be out and about, I might go to the cinema to see a particular film, go to the mall, attend a play or a show at the theater, have a meal at a restaurant or go to Dave and Buster's for thrills.
I would want the world to know that autism is a gift from God. It has done more good service to me as well as to others who have it than what society or even parents of people with autism will ever know: the ability to store more "bytes" of information than the typical human such as photographic memory. As my having autism is a bane to inspire others to persevere in doing what is truly good and just for all of humanity and other wonderful virtues that are associated with autism and we take for granted or in some way, have forgotten them, the same can be applied for others like myself. There is a side to me that acts like a child prodigy. I have been told by certain folks, including a close friend of mine, that I am like a "walking encyclopedia." For example, it galvanizes me or perhaps even helps me to point out any mistakes or missing spots that others may not be aware about such as a grammatical error on a piece of writing. It encourages me to be morally upright and be honest, even if it costs me anything. We are living in a world that needs to understand autism and accept autism as well as its intrinsic behaviors for the benefits that they can do, even if it may be perceived as negative when it is actually the opposite. Lastly, sometimes, I give my autism the credit for my not leaving my faith with which I am affiliated and persevering in it as well as the desire to talk at length about God, regardless how much others try to prevent me from doing it.
Given the fact that there is a propagation of information regarding autism and increased awareness of autism in today's world, even as there stands the necessity for accommodations, it is imperative that auties, particularly adults on the spectrum, would have similar opportunities and recreation, as well as for worship, as the average person without any special needs for work. After all, as a Catholic who tries to take faith seriously, I seek to make God known to special needs children, especially those with autism, and helping out those in need whenever one is grieving the loss of a loved one or seeking a basic material need. I volunteer at two Catholic churches that do programs for people with special needs. The first one is Sts. John and Paul in Washington Township and the second one is St. Ephrem in Sterling Heights. There, I play a small role in assisting my superiors; however, it is a big help for them and the participants in the programs. It is one of many ways that I am serving the least among the Lord's children.
Finally, to be female and have high-functioning autism makes me a special member of a rare species within an ever-growing special needs population. Like myself, people with autism and of course, autism per se can make great impact just as the autism itself has an impact on the individual. I hope that someday, I can make a positive impact on others, including individuals with autism and their families, and of course, the world we live in.