As a continuation of the series “Ask an Autistic Person,” and a kick-off to Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month, today’s interview comes from a self-diagnosed person with Autism who goes by the name “Sunkin Donuts.” Sunkin Donuts discusses how autism has an impact on her life and what you can do to help someone with autism.
Help Someone With Autism Today
At what age were you diagnosed with autism and how did the diagnosis come about?
I was diagnosed with Infantile Autism when I was 4, around 1989, after I had made little progress in terms of communication abilities. I was extremely terrified of bright lights.
Do you feel that your parents support/supported your needs well?
No, they were very ignorant.
I’ve heard some people say we should refer to you as a person first (a person with autism) but others feel that it’s okay to say someone is an autistic person. What do you feel is the correct way to talk about someone having autism?
I strongly prefer person first language because it’s like saying someone’s illness adheres to them. I am so much more than my illness.
Do you feel overwhelmed by environmental stimuli? If so, can you explain how it feels (for you) to have a strong reaction to sensory stimuli?
Absolutely. Sometimes I go into a mall and everything vanishes. My friends find me puking in a corner from the bright lights.
Are there ways in which you feel limited by your condition? If so, how?
It’s difficult to reap the fruits of my labor and enjoy myself. It’s sad and messed up that I can make 80K a year as an accountant and freeze like a statue in a city square.
How can having autism have an impact on someone’s behavior?
People think I’m angry at them, but I’m not.
Follow-up: How can parents, teachers, etc., help someone with autism to make it through a situation that’s creating frustration for them?
I have no idea.
What is the most annoying thing anyone has ever said to you regarding autism (and why did it annoy you)?
I overheard an interviewer laugh and be shocked that I had been working in investing firms from the age of 16. Of course I must be “retarded” from the way I come off. They could not believe I dared to “lie” about my employment history.
Do you think there is a cure for autism? More importantly, would you want to be cured of autism? Feel free to elaborate.
I’m working toward recovery from autism but am not certain that it would work. I feel like I’m in the *book of Job*; that autism has robbed me of so much I have worked for.
About Autism: A Reminder
Autism is a socioemotional communication and developmental disorder that impacts 1 in 68 people according to the CDC’s most recent data. It is 4.5 times more likely to be diagnosed in boys (1 in 44) than in girls (1 in 168), but that doesn’t mean, necessarily, that less girls have autism. It can be tricky to diagnose autism, especially when it’s comorbid with so many disorders. The most important thing you can do to help someone with autism is to educate yourself and be sensitive to the fact that, like any other person, not all people with autism are the same.
More Interviews Needed
I like to spread the word about autism with the hopes that acceptance occurs more often. The more people know about autism and how different everyone is, the better off we all are. To sign up to interview, please head here. I’d love to hear your story!