The Stigma of Living with Spectrum
I was born with autism. Like my parents believed, so did they make me believe, I was a normal kid just like others. That’s where we all flawed from the word go. I was just a normal kid. As a matter of facts, I needed special care and attention if at all I was to lead a normal life. But all that was elusive in Armenia at the time of my birth because there were no special institutions which could take care of us, especially during the early learning and development of any kid born with autism. On top of all this, for my poor parents, my elder brother was showing signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which was also pretty much ignored.
Even though by the age of 3 my parents discovered that I had cognitive and motor problems and needed special care, they went ahead and enrolled me to pursue my early education in mainstream school. My condition may not have been such severe to pose any risks in my education, but definitely it negatively impacted in my learning process. Moreover, getting along with other kids in school was also a problem by its own. A kind of lived in my own world.
Learning was an uphill climb for me. Initially, my teachers too never realized my problem. They often thought that I was ignorant. With time they definitely concluded that something was terribly wrong with me. I couldn’t participate in class and outside class I was always bullied which alleviated my social problems. I couldn’t even play with other kids. There is only one kid who showed interest in me and would be in my company, but she too didn’t understand me at all. She too didn’t realize that I was autistic.
Autism can Pose Learning Problems
When my parent realized that learning was impossible for me, they decided to pursue several treatments. I was enrolled for several therapy programs, but I didn’t respond efficiently like I was supposed to do. After two years of being home schooled, my mum decided to take me to another school in Yerevan which too didn’t offer any special classes for kids like me (my parents couldn’t afford to take me to a school with special needs). This was a terrible idea. The new environment was even more confusing to me. I had now to cope with new kids, new teachers, a new environment etc and yet I was a kid living with spectrum. You can as well as decipher the pain that I had to go through at that time. Since there was no better option, I had to live with all that.
The teachers here knew about my condition and they had promised to help; indeed they tried very much to be supportive to me even though they didn’t have the necessary expertise to handle children with such a condition as mine.
I had one particular teacher who gave me special attention and even tried to help me when it came to expressing myself and was very strict whenever other kids thought of laughing at me for my stuttering. The more she encouraged me, the better I tried to recount or participate in class work though I never liked any bit of it. This teacher also introduced a gluten-free diet that studies have shown have helped some kids behavioural issues on the autism spectrum.
One day, while we were in class, the teacher came and introduced a lady whom she had invited to the class. She was a representative from the Armenian Relief Society (ARS). Apparently, she had talked to her about my condition and she decided to pay us a visit. That was the turning point of my educational life. The lady addressed some of the cognitive and motor disorders that faced kids. I later talked to her outside my class. She needed to have a word with my parents.
Support and Care are Essential in Enabling an Autistic Kid Achieve His/her Potential
I was enrolled to the ARS Sponsor-A-Child Program which had me sponsored to learn in a special school. I was transferred to Walford School for children with special needs in Yerevan. This is the institution which helped me achieve my full potential. The instructors here had professional knowledge of handling kids with special needs and specifically identifying the best talents that a person honed and they worked to help achieve the fullest of our potential. Also the learning community and environmental was much better and it enabled me learn much faster. There are times that parents were invited for various workshops at the school so that they could be taught on better ways to encourage us to pursue our ambitions and better ways of taking care of kids with cognitive disorders.
I was able to get good grade and by the time that I went to high school, I had greatly improved on my communication abilities. I excelled well in high school and went to college where I’m pursuing a bachelors in special needs education. I intend to be at a position to too touch the lives of kids born with such kind of disorders.