Autism – simply an extension of who we are | Opinion

This week, we received an inspiring letter from one of our young readers who chose to share his story with our audience...

My name is Oliver. I was diagnosed with high functioning autism in 2013 when I was 11 years old. If things go to plan I should be writing a monthly column in this paper.

I hope to be able to highlight the experiences that I as a teenager on the spectrum face in day to day life as well as give some understanding of how people with autism see things differently.

Before I go into my personal experiences I want to express my thoughts on autism as a societal issue.

Autism comes in so many different forms and affects everybody in many different ways. Perhaps most prominently it affects the way we think.

Autism is not a disease or even a mental illness. If anything I see it as a lifestyle.

Everybody on the planet is unique. We all have different thoughts about life and everything in general. Autism cannot be cured and neither can the way people live and see things.

I’m proud of the fact that I’m autistic. Without it life would be so much different.

Oliver Townsend

There are thousands of people on the spectrum living in Western Australia alone and absolutely none of us are the same. Every single one of us has different beliefs, opinions and backgrounds.

For me autism is personally just an extension of who we are.

We’re no better or worse than ‘normal’ people.

For me autism acts like clothing for my brain.

That is, if my brain was very cold and needed layer upon layer to stay warm and comfortable.

With things like social anxiety and anger management issues that I have had trouble with in the past, to think that if I didn’t have everything that makes me... Me, surely this would result in a brain freeze.

I’m proud of the fact that I’m autistic. Without it life would be so much different.

In the past 16 years that I’ve spent on this planet I’ve gone through ups and downs. Highs and lows. I wouldn’t change any of it though.

I have a supportive family and a great group of friends.

For anyone reading this that has autism, or even if you just feel so different in society my message is this; you can accomplish anything.

Your differences make you who you are. Embrace the fact that you are different. Life will love you for it.

​Oliver Townsend