My name is Jordan, and I’m nearly 12 years old. I’m in seventh grade and I love high school. I live on the South Coast of New South Wales on three and a half acres. I have two dogs, Snoopy and Sprinkles, who bring joy to my world. They’re both staffies and I consider them to be my best friends. One of my favourite pastimes is writing, whether it be a piece like this or an imaginative story. I would like to go to university and become a writer. I love listening to music, particularly rock, and collecting memes.
It actually took me a while to embrace what Autism is and what it means to be Autistic. For a long time, I was in a love-hate relationship with my Autism. I didn’t relate to neurotypical kids, yet I struggled to feel at home with Autistic kids. I was “stereotypically Autistic” enough for some to realise that I had Autism, but I was also “normal appearing” enough for other people to be shocked whenever I revealed that I was Autistic. It was so hard to tell people I was Autistic before I joined the I CAN Network, due to the overwhelming amount of negative connotations others had about Autism.
When I first got involved in the I CAN Network through online mentoring, I had little idea what it was, to be honest. My mother signed me up and I just went along with it, not knowing that it was going to change my life. I CAN is so vital to rural and remote communities to connect Autistic kids so they can find their people. I soon learnt that a) I had far more in common with my Autistic peers than I had first thought and b) you should not let someone else’s negative opinion of Autism define you. These are principles I will hold close for the rest of my life.
Because of I CAN, I not only developed courage in my identity as a “Human on the Autism Spectrum”, but I found my place in the Autistic community. Now I am comfortable in telling other people that I am Autistic, and explaining Autism to those who have never heard of it before. I have also met some of the most influential, world-changing people in my life due to I CAN, and made friendships that will last a lifetime.
When I started participating in I CAN, my mentors were Carla and Chris. I have also been mentored by Max and Lochie. They have all opened up my mind and allowed me to see past the challenges of being Autistic, and I’ve learnt that despite the downsides, Autism is so beneficial. Without my Autism, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Autism has shaped me, got me through the toughest times of my life, tested me, and ultimately made me a stronger, wiser person. Thanks, Autism. My younger self might have felt that you dragged me down, but now I know that you weren’t the one dragging me down. My misconceptions about you and the lies others told me were what brought me down. You were building me up.