The world through the eyes of Achilles – What we know about autism?
My name is Achilles. I am a normal nine year old child, like all other kids of my age. Or rather, almost like the other kids. After all, everyone has their own personality? So do I.
I do not like others to touch me, I do not want cuddles and kisses. Since childhood I wanted to stay in my stroller without many hugs. I will confide you something. I always avoid eye contact. I do not want others to look at me in the eyes. Generally, I do not need others to deal with me. I feel uncomfortable when I’m crowded. I cannot understand what is happening around me, it makes me so upset. I prefer to talk with myself. I do not care who is listening. However, I do not like to talk to others. I prefer to make gestures and only when I want something meaningful.
Instead, I sit by myself for hours working on a game. In the beginning, my sister was coming and she spoiled my game! She was saying that this game is not played that way so she showed me how to play it properly. But does the game have either a right or wrong way to be played? My favorite game is cars. I like to take the wheels out of them and put back them. One day my sister came and began trundling and throwing them away. Then I started to scream and pull my hair. My mom quarreled to her and my sister was crying. I did not want to make her cry. I just wanted to show her that I do not want her to play with me. My sister puts various rules, which I sometimes do not understand and other times I forget them. So I prefer to play alone. And do not tease my toys! I like everything to be in order, each has its place. When someone changes their position I get upset and yell again. That way, they understand and do not tease them!
I get upset even when I feel changes around me. I don’t want changes! I love my routine. I want to wake up in the morning and follow my daily schedule. No, I am not bored. I feel calm when I do the same things. I told you before, I can play hours with the same game, I can go for hours back and forth my body or say the same word.
My sister tells me then that I want everything done in my own way. But don’t everyone want it? It would really be very difficult to understand what others want so I can “do their own thing”!!!
Other times she complains because I do not answer her questions. In fact, once my mom wondered whether I hear well or not. But it is not true. I hear everything! She just makes me some questions that I do not know the answer or I need a little more time to think about it. When I try to give her an answer, I often repeat the words she said. At the beginning she thought I was mocking her. But for me it’s an easy way to catch up on the discussion with her.
My sister is completely different from me. She craves attention of our parents almost maniacally. Many times I feel that she is a little jealous. It’s not that she does not love me, but … sometimes I think our parents deal more with me than with her, although I do not want them to. She might be right. I do not know why but my parents are engaged more with me. Indeed, I have my own teacher who sits with me when I’m at school. The other children only have the class teacher. I have two: one is the class teacher, Mrs. Bright and the other one is Mrs Argiro.
Mrs. Argiro sits next to me in class and helps me with the homework. He tells me not to do certain things because they disturb my classmates. I never thought that I could disturb others when I talk or when I throw things down or do several other things. Now I have stopped to do that. At first I struggled a lot. But Mrs. Argiro from everything I did, she only allowed me to beat rhythmically my pencil on the desk. This movement and sound helped me feel so calm. Gradually, she took the pencil and now I am beating with my finger. Thus, neither the others are bothered as she says, nor I get upset! You may wonder now how Mrs. Argiro succeeded to change my habits. It’s very simple. She shows me exactly what to do. When others talk to me, I do not even understand what my mom wants. In instance, my mom gave me one day a pencil and a paper. I took the paper and tore it up. I like to rip papers! But she did not want me to do that and started yelling at me. I do not want to be yelled. When they start screaming at me I also scream and bang my hands. Mrs. Argiro does not shout at me. Mrs Argiro gave me a paper and a pencil and showed me exactly what to do. She called it painting. And I’ve learned to paint. Everyone says that I have a talent for painting and admire my paintings! It’s not difficult to me. Whatever you think of I can draw. Besides, I do not think in words, I think in pictures! Mrs. Argiro says I have other talents that I can’t even imagine. For example, she considers talent my ability to remember by heart and recognize all car brands (I said it before, I love cars!) and many phone numbers too. I remember them even if I only see them once.
Since I met Mrs. Argiro my life has become easier. Not only because I can communicate with her, but also because she explained to my parents all that I wanted and couldn’t explain to them before. Now, even my sister understands me more and we do not whining!
And I have learned many things at school. Whatever you they want to teach me they do it through cars. I told you how much I like them! And she has understood it so I can learn everything! Yesterday I learned to count the wheels of the car and take some out. ‘There are 4 wheels in a car. If I get one, three are left. «Today I am counting the wheels of cars all day!
I have learned even more things: how to hold the spoon to eat, that we should not throw the food down or crush objects. My mom taught me to tie my laces and strew my bed! I am sure I will slowly learn and many other things.
So this is my life. Pleasant but difficult as well. Like every child’s life. Maybe I require a most special way to be reached out by someone. But when this method is found (as Mrs. Argiro found it) then the difficulties disappear!
P.S. I’ve heard some calling me autistic. But I prefer ‘Achilles’! This is my name. Autism is just one of my characteristics. And to tell you the truth, I like what I am! And I know that my own people love me for exactly who I am! They tell me all the time… even if I pretend I do not hear them! ”
Achilles has received a diagnosis of autistic disorder. Some of his features are common to many autistic children. However, each child may present a different feature combination and in varying degrees of intensity. Please note that the diagnosis of autism does not necessarily mean low intellectual level. The intellectual level of children with autism can range from very high to level of mental retardation. The main area affected by autism is the interaction with the social environment. They prefer isolation, and do not allow the participation of others in the world they create.
I would like to thanks the educator Lountzis Constantina for the valuable information and advice, as well as my little pupil N. because he helped me understand the autism disorder spectrum and see the world through his eyes.
Kakouros, E., Maniadaki K., (2006) Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, Developmental approach. ATHENS: GEORGE DARDANOS
Source in Greek: fylada.blogspot.gr