April was National Autism Awareness Month, aimed at raising an understanding of this life-long condition affecting one out of every 100 people worldwide.
Bursting into the realm of public awareness with the 1988 film Rainman, autism is far more than just the development disorder portrayed in this film.
While no two autistic people are the same, the film highlights the struggles people living with autism face every day of their lives.
With difficulties fitting into a world they don’t understand, problems with communication, dependency on routines and repetitive and obsessive behaviours, people with autism face many challenges.
I personally understand these struggles as I was diagnosed with autism when I was three-years-old.
My mother said she will never forget the day a doctor told her, “Daniel is the most extreme case I have seen in my 20-year career,” and “he will never amount to anything in life.”
While I will never be cured, my stubborn mother refused to accept that I would achieve nothing.
She taught me it’s alright to be different and rather than seeing autism as a disability, see it as something that makes me unique and focus on my strengths.
I may have problems communicating verbally for example, but I can express myself clearly through writing.
I have met many inspirational people including one of Australia’s biggest supporters of autism, Manly Sea Eagles player Brenton Lawrence.
Brenton won this year’s National ASPECT Recognition Award for raising an awareness of autism on Chanel Nine’s Footy Show and his organisation of camps for children who have siblings with autism.
Brenton became involved with ASPECT Australia after his nephew was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
“I just wanted to help wherever I could and raise an awareness of the talents of people with ASD,” he said.
“Everyone is different whether they’re on the spectrum or not, it’s just about recognising potential and seeing a different brilliance.”
By focusing on my strengths, I’m now in my second year at Newcastle University studying Journalism, well on my way to achieving something worthwhile in life.
During Autism Awareness month, see the different brilliance and realise everyone has the potential to achieve.
By Daniel SAHYOUN