A child explains his autistic perception of the world to all


I want to tell you what it is like to have autism.


Inability to see the world through other people's eyes

At times you must think I don't care about you or anyone else in the world. I am not more selfish or caring than other children. I just have so much trouble seeing the world through anyone's eyes other than mine. I may gain the ability to do this, but it will be slower than most children. Apparently this empathy with others is an incredibly complex task for our brains, and one reason they are much larger than animal's brains. My brain just has a much harder time learning that your thoughts, perceptions and needs differ to mine.


Please don't think I am selfish, or think of you just as an object. I have so much trouble seeing the world they way you do. It is very difficult for me to follow what you are pointing at, express my needs and fears to you, keep calm when things frustrate me, or comprehend how my actions affect you. When I am overwhelmed in the supermarket, I truly can't begin to grasp the frustration and embarrassment you must feel as other shoppers judge you about me and your alleged poor parenting skills.


I hope to get more social skills as I get older, but I know you will still be frustrated with me. I will probably rave on about my interests and take no interest in yours or other people's. I may appear aloof, remote and disinterested in the feelings of anyone else. My behavior will often be inappropriate. You will feel at times that I am doing all these things intentionally. I do know that your patience, love and strategies to help me understand the world through other people's eyes increase my chances of showing my love and gratitude to you.


Communication overwhelms me at times.It is so hard to follow your speech when there are so many other sensations bombarding me, and I can't understand your facial expressions, tone of voice and what your body language is trying to tell me. Playing with other children overloads me as well. It is so much easier to stay in my own world and enjoy the order, pattern and routine of my favorite things.


autism affects how I interpret of the world through my senses

I have so much trouble with my senses. There is a barrage of sights, sounds, textures, speech, tastes, smells, temperatures, shapes, colors and images for me to process. Also I am much more sensitive to some senses than you. When you are trying to talk to me, I may be smiling at the pleasant hum of freeway traffic miles away that you have the ability to filter out.


Your ability to filter out unwanted sensations and make sense of the desired ones is another amazing thing the brain can do. Mine has a lot of trouble with this. So often I am awash in the details, unable to grasp the central meaning. I may line up all my toys in straight lines and not use them for the purpose you intended. In communication, I will have trouble with context and take words at face value. If you tell me you have a cold, I might think you have some ice in your pocket.


If we go to a picnic, you may remember chats with friends, beautiful weather, laughing and having a wonderful day in an abstract sense. I enjoyed the day because of the sound of jets flying overhead, the smell of the cooking meat, the patterns I saw in the picnic blanket and the feel of the grass I constantly brushed with my fingers. I am drawn more to textures, vibrations, smells, details and things instead of more general social experiences. This is probably also why it is easier for me to understand and remember things that I can see visually, instead of being told.



Imagination is another thing you probably take for granted, but I don't. You will see other children in pretend play, creating vivid stories, fantasies and role plays with gay abandon. Once again, these skills require all the complexity of the human brain. It is something I will only grasp slowly, if ever. Pretending that something exists seems pointless and is another reason I find playing with other children difficult.


My difficulties with imagination affect other things too. My understanding of humor is unlikely to go much past very concrete slapstick styles. It is difficult to imagine what may happen in the future so tend to live much more in the present. Lack of imagination makes it difficult for me to see wider possibilities and opportunities, so I much prefer routines and order.



Please understand that often when you think I am misbehaving, I am trying to tell you something is wrong, but I don't know how to express this yet. If I start screaming in a public place, you get embarrassed, angry, frustrated and all sorts of unpleasant emotions. But I don't do these things to make you feel this way. Something has upset me and this is my only way of letting you know. It might be the unpleasant feel of new clothes, or a horrible sound you don't even notice or just simply too many things happening around me and I feel swamped and helpless. Please be patient and look for what is upsetting me. Please help me to communicate better and respond a better way to things I don't like.


Returning your love

You have been very patient with me although it must be easy to get angry, frustrated and sad because I am not developing the way you hoped for. Please realize I still enjoy this life, although in a different way to you. I hope one day I can develop enough to express my gratitude to you for all your patience and love to me even when I could not reflect it back to you yet.


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A personal story about seeing the world through the context of Autism or Asperger's syndrome