Samara, 9.

I was 7 and a half when I was diagnosed and I’m nearly 10 now. I had been feeling different from the other kids at school for a long time so I was relieved to know why. Some things bothered me that didn’t bother them, like noises, especially out of tune singing.

I still feel different from other children, but now I know one of the reasons and that helps a lot because I can give myself strategies that work. I know how to calm myself down when I feel myself getting agitated and what situations to avoid. I need to have a lot of alone time after a day at school. I have also found some Autistic friends that understand me better.

If I need to explain Autism to someone, I tell them that my brain is wired differently, so I have a different way of thinking to others.

Being Autistic isn’t good or bad, it is neutral. Everyone has strengths and challenges. If Autistic people like something, we are REALLY good at it because of our ability to focus on things we enjoy. We also have challenges that others don’t. For example, we find it hard to focus on something we don’t like, we have sensory issues and we can get fed up over people not saying what they mean. At my new school I skip noisy activities like assemblies and/or classroom singing, and big group activities, like cross country or athletics carnivals. I go and work on my book instead. If all teachers understood why those things are sometimes unbearable, that would help. It also helps not having surprises, like substitute teachers. I hate it when my teacher is away (and I don’t know the relief teacher).

Some sensory experiences are very positive. When I taste a piece of delicious chocolate or hear some music like “Aquarium” by Saint-Saëns, it feels like my worries are stains on a shirt, but then someone nice put it in the wash for me. My brain generates thousands of ideas, some are connected, like spiderwebs, but others aren’t, and stand alone. When I am interested in something, I learn all I can about it and become an expert very quickly.

I think neurodiversity is very important. Without it, we would not have new solutions to old problems. If everybody thought and processed information in the same way, we wouldn’t be humans, we would be like robots. Last year I made a video for parents of Autistic girls to encourage them to tell their daughters they are Autistic so they can understand themselves better. I am not proud to be Autistic because it’s just my genes. I didn’t do it. It’s simply who I am. I think people should be proud if they make an effort to be kind. I don’t think pride applies to something we haven’t done ourselves. We should not be ashamed of being Autistic, but it’s not something to be proud of because we didn’t make ourselves Autistic.

I really love animals and they feel safe around me. I love gaming, writing and art. Some people think that Autistic people all love maths, but that’s wrong. I am writing and illustrating a series of novels about a hybrid race called “The Anihumans”. The first book is called “Our Faux Foes” and I get to work on it a lot at school as well. Here is a teaser!

Amazon was swinging from vine to vine, like a ninja, but this activity made him feel way, WAY too cautious. It’s OK, he thought. It’s not like I’m gonna fall in or anything, but the one time he thought that was the one time he was wrong! Too bad that Amazon was born a poison dart frog Anihuman, because stress has consequences. In his case, the consequence for stress is that he secretes poison even if he doesn’t want to. His skin was getting quite sweaty, slick with salty, liquified cautiousness. Or so he thought. It all came down to one thing; his poison. …

I am going to publish my first novel when I have finished writing it. I might have to self-publish, but it will happen. I still have a lot to write, but I am averaging a page to a page and a half a day.

My I CAN network is mostly my Dad, Mum and two of my teachers (Mr L, and sometimes Mrs O). My mum is Autistic too. We are very different, but we have some similar traits (so we can relate to each other).

My perfect world would look like:

  • No bad misunderstandings
  • No bullying/rudeness
  • No melt-downs (you can still be sad or angry, just not melt-downs)
  • No bad noises
  • No bad sights
  • No bad smells
  • Everyone is considered equal, and is accepted
  • No disloyalty, dishonesty, or fake friends

My advice for other girls like me is to stand up for your needs and find some other Autistic people to be friends with because they might understand you better. Remember this: being neurodivergent (Autism, ADHD etc.) isn’t abnormal; it’s just a different type of normal, so don’t be ashamed of being different.

The I CAN Network creates a world that embraces Samara’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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