In recognition of National Autism Month Awareness Month, I asked my 20 year old son, Evan, to write about Autism from his perspective. Evan is considered very high functioning on the Autism spectrum. As you will see from his writing, this situation, in itself, presents a lot of challenges, because Evan’s challenges are not readily evident to most people. This is both good and bad as you will read.
Hello. My name is Evan Budraitis. My father, Ben Budraitis is the owner and CEO of Synergy Homecare in Broomfield, Colorado. My brother, Greg is the Care Director and manages the company. Why that matters is because this company reaches the hearts of families and gives them a measure of relief whether it comes to caring for elderly men and woman, or young boys and girls, helping to keep them safe and well at home. But what about me? What category do I fit into?
Throughout my entire life—from the time I was 3 years old, I have been struggling with Autism. I have PDDNOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specific). I am going on 20 years old now, and it has been a constant struggle to assimilate into a society that judge me by their norms.
Looking at me you don’t think anything different. I don’t have physical characteristics that you would see like Downs Syndrome. But if I try to play a sport, I feel like a failure. I’m not coordinated. I can tie my shoes, but to learn that task was very difficult because my fine motor coordination is not good.
I graduated from high school in 2014. Going to school was not easy for me. I needed help with standardized tests and I was not able to write fast enough to take notes. Many of the students in my school made me feel like I was unintelligent and a failure. I could say that people are nice and compassionate, but in reality, my experience in school is that this is simply not true. In my experience, people were nice, until I started talking. Then I would be teased.
So what is it like to be Autistic?
To be autistic is to realize that you are being judged the second you walk into a room. People that will tell you they are your friend are quick to turn on you.
To be Autistic is to be treated as the “little brother” by everyone or ignored.
To be Autistic is to feel lonely.
When I sought help for problems that I had, the doctors spoke in a manner that befits a child. When I try explaining my problems, everyone gets confused by what I have to say. When I try to explain what I meant, I am unable to say what the problem is in a way that they would understand. When I have multiple issues, I am unprepared to tell all of my issues.
The counselor that I went to see a few weeks ago treated my situation like a joke. He tried to suggest that because I have autism, I cannot empathize, or sympathize with other people. I picked up on this really quick and tried to catch him off guard. “Does that make me a bad person?” I asked hoping that he would slip up and confirm what I thought he was saying. He dodged the question and wrote a treatment plan that didn’t help solve a lot of what I felt my problems are.
I’m not saying that he’s a bad counselor. His advice is a little bit helpful, but it is challenging for me to stay focused. However, it was the way he carried himself in the meeting that made me feel he did not care. He had the sort of confidence that was at the level of arrogance, which set off my BS detector within a minute of the interview beginning.
I spent the majority of my childhood afraid of people, and unable to trust people. My room is my sanctuary. Solitude was more preferable to me than taking the risk of befriending people.
By now, you may be thinking that I have had it pretty bad. I am not arrogant enough to suggest that my experience is the worst anyone has had. You may be thinking, “Big deal. Everyone goes through those problems in school.” And you have a point, all of us face something similar in school.
I am not attempting to gain pity, my point is to say that our lives are generally the same as yours. We eat, we drink, we smoke, etc. There are plenty of people who have had it much worse than I have. The important thing to realize is that each case of autism is different. We are both unique while at the same time, bound to a different way of thought. We have challenges that everyday people like you find incredibly easy. Things like tying trash bags. We tend to have trouble with motor skills and muscle memory.
The important thing to do when you come across someone with Autism is to realize that it takes a little more time for us to get something done right. We will make mistakes. Don’t write us off as stupid. Don’t write us off as weird. Take the time to get to know us. And help us integrate, we’ll get to where you want us to be, it will just take a little more time.
Is there anything good about be Autistic?
One good aspect I can think of is that your minds are traps for information. Think back to the movie Rain Man, where Dustin Hoffman, who plays Raymond is counting cards at the casino. Blackjack decks at casinos are very complex. Raymond used complex algorithms to not only count, but to predict which cards his opponents were going to play.
For me, I am not good at math, but, I can literally read a dictionary front to back and memorize a good majority of the definitions fairly quick.
So that’s what it is like to be autistic.
SYNERGY HomeCare provides a variety of in-home care services such as senior home assistance, homecare support, and in-home companionship services to clients of all ages for families living in East Central County including La Mesa, Casa de Oro, Del Cerro, Mt. Helix, Santee, Lemon Grove, San Carlos, Allied Gardens, Tierrasanta, and other nearby communities. Call SYNERGY HomeCare today to learn more and discuss your options at 619-462-2273.