Autism helped Amanda unlock her talent for poetry and value herself as being different. Amanda’s message is: “Never change who you are”. Being different from each other is good, it makes us unique. She shares her story and her YouTube poem ‘Dear Autism’.
Getting the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
When I woke up on 15 April 2016 I did not know that the day would put the last 26 years of my life in perspective. On this day I was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. I knew something was wrong before, but I could not put a name to it.
A few years earlier in 2014, I had given my sister’s friend a necklace. The long embrace that we shared after he accepted my gift changed my world.
I began to feel strange. I began to shake, to hyperventilate and, eventually, cry. I had never experienced something like this before. I found it to be extremely traumatic. Eventually I had a panic attack.
I only told one friend about it, who I swore to secrecy.
I did know that autism can manifest itself in a variety of ways. But I never thought it would rear its ugly head in this specific way, after an embrace.
After I was officially diagnosed, my family responded in a variety of ways. But eventually, everyone came to terms with it.
Making sense of autism
After receiving the diagnosis, I went through bouts of depression. I did not know what to do with myself. My only source of knowledge of autism was YouTube videos.
The medical drama The Good Doctor also helped me and others to understand autism. It focuses on a surgical resident by the name of Doctor Shaun Murphy, played by Freddie Highmore, who isn’t on the autism spectrum.
Throughout the series, he faces several challenges. The show really resonated with me, particularly early on in my journey, when many of the storylines dealt with workplace discrimination and developing a relationship.
It also shows that people with autism have many gifts and talents. We don’t necessarily have to become doctors, we only need to be willing to make a difference.
I believe that education may foster kindness and acceptance of people with autism.
Writing about autism and discovery poetry
Writing also helped me to make sense of autism. I am now a poet – but I wasn’t before my diagnosis.
I never thought I would write an ounce of poetry. It’s ironic, but back in college, I found poetry awful and boring. Autism has taught me how to unlock new gifts and talents and become a poet
My poetry doesn’t necessarily have a specific rhyme to it. The point of poetry is to tell a story and hopefully, that story will resonate with others.
The freedom of expression that I experience when I am writing is nothing like I’ve ever felt before.
I write about many things. Simple things, such as flowers or even a rainstorm. And I write about more complicated topics. Relationships with other people and my relationship with Jesus Christ.
I often stay up for hours writing about what is in my heart, unable to unlock what I’m trying to say in words. ASD has taught me a lot, and it has helped me to embrace difference.
Poem ‘Dear Autism’
I wrote the poem Dear Autism – a heart-wrenching piece about how many of us on the autism spectrum feel when they lose a friend or relationship.
Through dear autism, I became a published poet. It was my first piece that was published in the Berkeley Times.
I hope one day that my poetry helps those who are not only suffering from the associated effects of ASD, but also brings sunlight and comfort to their families.
The important thing to remember is whatever comes your way. Never change for who you are. We were all made different for a unique purpose. Find out what your purpose in life is and how to make the world a better place.
It was not only writing poetry that helped me make sense of autism.
Becoming a life coach to change perceptions of autism
My journey with autism has not been an easy one. It’s has been filled with stresses and setbacks. I believe that if we continue to educate the world on how everybody’s brain works differently, then individuals gifted with autism are less likely to face discrimination and bullying.
The world needs to be filled with more kindness, love and acceptance.
My ambition is now to change the world by becoming an autism life coach and teacher. I became the first student with autism to attend the Academy for Coaching Excellence in Sacramento, California, and they’ve welcomed me openly.
The academy did not offer autism training to life coaches, but I am pioneering it at the academy and, more broadly, in the coaching industry.
My goal is to work with clients on the autism spectrum and eventually return to the academy for coaching excellence as a course leader.
Through coaching, I will be able to create a place where those with autism are free to be different, to be themselves.
My mentor, Beth Ann, believes that I have much to offer the world of coaching due to having ASD. My coaches, Maria, Allison, Zo, Josh, and Jeremy have also been essential to my personal journey and professional development.
Without their kindness, respect, and most importantly acceptance, I would not have discovered my talent for coaching.
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