Bryce, 18.

I was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 9. Before I was diagnosed I seemed to be a fairly ‘normal’ kid who just loved life, however that changed when I reached primary school. For the first two years I mostly sat in class with the occasional bit of pencil sharpening. I couldn’t even read until grade 2 and if the constant bullying and lack of understanding wasn’t bad enough it got worse after my diagnosis.

When I was diagnosed with Autism, my school started to treat me differently as though they suddenly knew how to ‘fix’ me. I was put into special classes that seemed like a waste of the teacher’s time as I either already knew how to do something, or I just found it boring and pointless such as reading a phonebook. Life didn’t get much better when I reached secondary school as I saw my diagnosis as a bad thing that I should be ashamed of. This was also the year I found out just how far I was behind all my peers. My first semester reports showed that I was two years behind in math alone and that I needed immediate help. I began to doubt that I could ever reach year 12 let alone finish it. That is where my wonderful mother stepped in to help. After school each night throughout year 7 she taught me a total of 3 years’ worth of math just so I could be at the same level as everyone else.

After year 7, and with the support of my mother, everything began to improve – I was no longer being bullied and I was coping better with the schoolwork, however I continued to hide my diagnosis for another 3 years. Last year ended up being a big year for me as that was when I began to be an advocate for Autism acceptance. On April 10th I wrote my first blog post which revealed my diagnosis to my friends and peers and I also discovered the I CAN Network. This wonderful organisation has become an important part of my life as I now look to be a speaker with them and maybe even a mentor in the future. That wasn’t all, as in July I was elected onto the Victorian Student Representative Council (VicSRC). The VicSRC is an organisation that envisions a future where every student has access to an education that is student-led, student-driven and student-focused. On the VicSRC I represent Autistic students and in doing so have had the opportunity to help make VicSRC events, and hopefully many schools, more Autism friendly.

I believe that a world that accepts and embraces Autism is possible. We just have to work for it.

Bryce wants to see a world that embraces Autism. We need your help. Join us by donating or giving monthly. Together, we can create employment opportunities for people on the Autism Spectrum, and can support schools and workplaces to celebrate their individual strengths.

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