We’d like to introduce you to our guest for today’s blog. Trevor is 23 years old and is the Media Director of his family’s business, Consetta Group.
Lynn: At what age were you diagnosed with ASD?
Trevor: At age 5
Lynn: Do you recall what and when your parents told you about your diagnosis?
Trevor: It was more I heard here and there growing up from my parents that I had autism, except for years I didn’t even know what it was. So the fact that I knew I was autistic had no effect on my childhood.
Lynn: Did you participate in any therapies such as ABA or speech or occupational therapy?
Trevor: Yes, I had speech therapy when I was little, and from Kindergarten through sixth grade I had extra accommodations through my school to help with social skills. I had these same types of accommodations in middle school and high school to focus on my academics, and in college I had occasional accommodations to help me in test taking.
Lynn: Did you participate in special education in school? Were you in an inclusion classroom or a contained classroom?
Trevor: The special accommodations I mentioned above during grade school were set in a separate room from my usual classroom, and was with one or two other students on the spectrum. I had none of this in middle school, but in high school I was placed in a special class to help students struggling with their grades.
Lynn: What has been the most challenging part of ASD for you?
Trevor: Making friends. It was never a problem for me in middle school or grade school, as I never had much of a desire to make friends. It was in high school and on to today where it became a desire and struggle for me.
Lynn: What do you think helped you the most with this challenge?
Trevor: It was mostly a matter of trial and error. The more people I met with, the better idea of who I wanted to be friends with. Eventually the right friends came to me, and they helped me to learn what being a good friend is about.
Lynn: Do you know young adults who have severe ASD?
Trevor: I know of several young adults with severe ASD, but none well enough to give a knowledgeable description about.
Lynn: If so, how do you think “your ASD” and “their ASD” are similar or different?
Trevor: Everyone’s story is different. I have never met two cases of ASD or Down syndrome that were exactly the same. One may be nonverbal, one may be more independent. It’s important that we not categorize between levels of functionality, because they are limitless.
Lynn: Do you think you have an understanding of how someone with severe ASD experiences/processes the world?
Trevor: I honestly do not. In order to know how someone experiences the world, you have to step in their brain for a day.
Lynn: What do you think about the idea that ASD isn’t a disability but a difference in thinking or personality?
Trevor: I think that it is unacceptable how few people grasp this concept. While people with disabilities may not be able to do commonly acceptable tasks such as writing, talking, or living independently, they still have so many other abilities involving the mind that others would only dream of having.
Lynn: When you think back on growing up, what do you think the adults in your life got right?
Trevor: That we need to respect and obey our authorities, for they are our role models.
Lynn: When you think back on growing up, what do you think the adults in your life got wrong?
Trevor: Their priorities in what I need to learn in school were all wrong. They try to say, “If you don’t do well in this subject you’ll never get a job!” But from what I now can tell, there is a profession for everyone big or small, even if it’s just putting labels on jars like I heard one person with ASD does for a living.
Lynn: There’s so much about ASD that we still don’t understand. What is your hope when it comes to current efforts at understanding what causes it and how we help those affected by it?
Trevor: We should not be worried about what causes it, because that immediately sets us into a mindset that autism is a curable disease. Our focus must be on how we can help children with ASD to know what their strengths are, and how to use them. I also would like to see the educational system accommodate itself to fit in with what the student is genuinely great at doing.