Writing about my experiences growing up with autism
I’m a very opinionated person; but my stubborn views are not born of arrogance. No, I forged them in the fires I experienced growing up. Call it simple-minded, but we all have our expectations of life drilled into our brains, only to have them shattered by reality’s often chilling grip. When I was a toddler, I thought I’d have a life not unlike most other children. Of course, when you’re a toddler, you’re limited by your miniscule life-experience. For me, I’d only known my family, or close family friends.
Expectations of normality
By the time I set foot in my first nursery, I hadn’t realised every parenting book expected me toilet-trained, sociable, and off the bottle. After multiple accidents involving my peers, I had to change placement. I didn’t question things until I saw other children at my second placement and first proper school. They made friends; could use the toilet and were strong enough to play on the climbing-frame.
Teachers didn’t trust me, other children avoided me, other parents viewed me with contempt. I blamed myself, believing I was born to play the role of “bad guy.” In year one, the school sentenced me to isolation in the “rainbow room.” All day everyday they left me to stew, and I began to realise I wasn’t like other children.
A hard road
I got lucky, diagnosed at age five. There were sympathetic ears in my local area, without them, I wouldn’t have moved from my first primary school. But a diagnosis didn’t make things easy, it was still a hard road from there, self-harm, online battles, abusive TAs, a tribunal against my local authority. It was these experiences that inspired me to write my book.
Documenting raw experiences
I’ve always loved writing, but before I even started writing, “Why is He Still Here?” That was the first question I asked myself. I looked, but nobody had written an in-depth account about the raw experiences of special needs individuals in the education-system. Nor had anyone written about what it's like to lead an online guild, and just how deep some of these “silly internet games,” can go.
It would have been easy to write about, “how hard life is with autism.” Or “sensory issues,” but I wanted to get into the nitty-gritty and expose two worlds at the same time. Early on, I aimed to write the book in a “teenage, boisterous way.” I decided a story like this had to be raw. It needed to capture the pure feelings of a teenage boy on the spectrum, not interpretations of them. But it also needed to avoid alienating an adult audience with unfamiliar territory.
I feel I am placed in a unique position and I wanted to tell my individual story in an individualistic manner, like I have always done.
I don’t know! And that’s okay. There’s still a way to for me, but I am the driver of my progress, and I don’t intend to stop. Thing is, you don’t go through a hardtime, come out, and then everything is okay forever. There are always challenges to meet, and I intend to meet them.
Before closing this blog post, I’d like to thank Ambitious about Autism for giving me a platform, it really means a lot.
About the author
Max Toper is an eighteen-year-old author from London, at age five he was diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder. He is a qualified Cisco Certified Network Associate, a onetime community manager, and has enjoyed writing since the age of seven. When Max’s friends and family suggested he write a book about his experiences, he took the idea to heart, financing, writing, and publishing the project by himself. When he’s not battling a complicated IT problem, or resisting the urge to procrastinate while writing, Max indulges himself in PC gaming, and listening to his favourite bands.