Autism has affected my life as well as my family’s life in several ways.
As a young child, my diagnosis was pervasive developmental disorder–not otherwise specified (PDD–NOS). Not until I was 14 years old was my family told I had autism. This is considered a fairly late diagnosis, but my family was happy to finally have an explanation for my funny quirks, obsessions, and repetitive talk.
I have been a very shy person most of my life, which may or may not be due to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). During my school years, I had trouble making and keeping friends.
In high school, I started running cross country. This activity helped me a lot because I was part of a team and my teammates accepted me for who I was.
Despite ASD, I was able to graduate from college. I needed an extra three years and had to work extra hard, but it all paid off in the end. I got my degree in liberal arts from Wesley College in 2006.
Anxiety has been a significant problem for me in my life. If I’m in an unfamiliar place, interacting with unfamiliar people, or standing in a crowd, I find it extremely difficult.
Autism has affected my family relationships as well. Sometimes, I get defensive and frustrated and yell. My moods, obsessions, and anxiety can be difficult for all of us. Maintaining relationships with people outside of my family has also been difficult for me.
Since graduating from college, I have had a few jobs doing such work as packing boxes and data entry. They all ended with me being laid off.
I am optimistic that I will find another job. With patience and a positive attitude, I will achieve my goal of long-term employment. My dream job involves either data entry or writing. I hope to become more independent and experience some lasting relationships, too. In the meantime, I volunteer at Autism Delaware and have worked with the newsletter editor as well as do data entry.
Sun contributor Mike Schroeder was a volunteer at Autism Delaware and wrote this article as part of his service.
This text was edited for consistency of language and message and appears in the October–December 2015 issue of the Autism Delaware™ quarterly newsletter, The Sun.