Carla, 15.

I got diagnosed when I was 4 years old. My parents only told me when I was 11 as I would not really have understood it earlier. I only started talking at age 5. They have always told me that God made me perfect and He does not make mistakes.

I am happy with who I am and not shy to tell others that I am Autistic. The problem is that some people do not understand me because I have difficulty with socialisation and I’m not comfortable with lots of people. I tell other people that I react and think differently from most people. I’m not broken, not less, just different.

I think being Autistic means I’m different, not disabled, I don’t always react appropriately, I’m not broken, I have very good memory, I feel safe when doing something repeatedly.

In South Africa we are not well supported. Some do attend mainstream schools, but others need more specialised schooling and there is a long waiting list for kids. I do attend a special needs school, but we do write the same exams as mainstream schools.

I like to play music, talk to myself, practice music on my keyboard, draw pictures and play on my cell phone. I have 2 friends that are a bit older than me at school who I chat to too.

I have awesome teachers at school that are really supportive and are always cheering me on. I have been at the school since age 4, so it’s a big support system. My family also love me for who I am and never hid that I was different.

With hard work and determination, I can do most of what I want to do. I attend drama classes and we have an annual show. I am participating in a talent show at school – I love performing!

A perfect world for me will be where everybody is accepted as whole people. That we can love each other like my dogs love me, always happy to see me. It will be great for people and some parents to know we are not broken. I can remember lots of things from when I could not speak yet. Just because someone cannot speak, does not mean that they do not understand. Be helpful without looking down on us.

The I CAN Network creates a world that embraces Carla’s strengths. We need your support to continue creating a society that empowers young people on the Autism Spectrum. Join us by donating to our next venture: holding one of our acclaimed camps in Queensland.

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