www.whyville.net Mar 30, 2008 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

Autism. Wait, What?

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We've all heard of autism. On the news, at your local grocery store, or where you can cure the cause. But not many people know what it is. The truth is, it can be many different things. But we're going learn the gist of it.

I myself have no personal experience with autism. None of my relatives or friends, and I certainly don't have it. However, there is a girl that goes to my school and she is autistic. Her name is Hope. And if you try to start a conversation with her, you would know that something is wrong.

Autism usually effects social skills. It is difficult to explain things to people, and hard to show certain emotions such as, if you where sad, you would start laughing because you're confused.

But, autism can (in a way) be beneficial. Hope is very bright. She knows almost every single answer to the questions in class. But again, back to the social skills, she can't really explain it, and doesn't know when to stop giving information. Hope has a very good memory because she can 100% focus in on something and block every single distraction out.

A lot of times TV is a way autistic people show their good memory (not all autistic people have great memories like Hope by the way). Sometimes, when autistic people watch TV, they remember every detail. There is a boy named Quinn, and when he watches TV, he can remember words that he sees. At age two, Quinn spelled out with his blocks the word "Pixar", a movie-making company. He even took a marker and a poster and wrote out almost every word in the credits to the movie The Incredibles. He even memorized the top two lines of the keyboard.

But autism isn't all about memory and social skills. Sometimes at young ages, kids through tantrums constantly about very little things. The most common sign for early autism is when toddlers (as young as 1 year-old) stack things such as cans on top of each other. If they fall down, stack em' back up again! This can also be lining things up.

Let's take one more look at another autistic child. Amy is 15 years-old. But she has the mind of a 6 year-old. Amy cannot complete simple tasks such as brushing her teeth or making her bed, without having a step-by-step chart on how to do it. Amy insists on watching her favorite Barney episode every Wednesday, and also wearing pigtails and a dress on Wednesday. If something is out of place such as her dad's shirt has a stain, then her whole world is out of place, she gets confused, mad, frustrated, and cries.

I tried to talk to Hope about her autism, and I think she got a little confused on what I asked her, but what she said was, "There is no point in finding a cure and donating because, nobody knows what causes it." And it's true. Nobody knows what causes this, and there are many many different kinds of autism.

I have learned a lot about autism, and it fascinates me. If you want more information, you can go to AutismSpeaks.org



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