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Dublin: 5 °C Saturday 20 December, 2014

Column: I have Asperger’s and I like being “different”

Fionn Hamill is a young boy who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Here he explains why he loves the way he is and how he never wishes he was any different.

Fionn Hamill is a 12-year-old boy who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Fionn says that he understands the condition he has and that he is just “wired differently”. This is why he says he wants to be an advocate for autism, so he can help the world understand how it looks through his eyes. Here he explains why he likes to be different…

When I was really young I didn’t understand other children and I hated big crowds like family events or football matches. Mum explained to me that I was wired differently, that it wasn’t a bad thing. She said that I could just do things differently, but I would still get everything done. And she told me that what I had was called Asperger’s.

I learned to enjoy my Asperger’s. When people call ASD an autistic spectrum disorder or a disability, I don’t like it . It doesn’t make me any less capable to do anything. Asperger’s lets me look at things from a totally different perspective – I can think outside the box. It makes the world kind of complicated and you have to keep figuring other people out.

When people say smile,  I don’t quite get them. I didn’t used to get sarcasm and I used to have to question when I heard it, like “was that it?” When teachers tell me to answer the question on the board – and there is no question mark – I wouldn’t understand. Sometimes teachers need to explain more to me than they do usually. Sometimes when people say something and they mean something else, that’s confusing.

Some things I don’t get

It really confuses me if someone shouts at me – I used to think that meant that they hated me. But now I realise it’s just that they want me to do it a bit better at that time. I get confused when a class gets a punishment because I think I am a good child and if I wasn’t doing the wrong thing, why should I get punished?

I don’t get racism. I would never be racist but I don’t understand why you can’t say what colour somebody’s skin is, the way you can with their eyes. Another thing I find confusing is emotions. I made up a word “emotious” and I use it to describe when lots of different emotions are all stirred in together.

For instance, if I am watching something like Les Miserables, I need to be able to chat with mum to tell the emotions apart. I often have to be careful about what I say. Before I say something I often say “no offence” in case I do offend someone. When I was little I never used to get jokes, but now I have a good sense of humour – I love sitcoms like Father Ted, Miranda, Spongebob and Mrs Brown’s Boys (but it can be rude).

Things I don’t like

People with Asperger’s are very sensitive with all their senses. I call it “sensatious” when there is a really strong sensation. Certain things can bother me, like I used to hate sound of the crowd roaring at a football game so I would cover my ears and scream. My parents kept bringing me and now I don’t notice the noise and I roar too! I also hate the feel of baked beans. If there is one in my food it makes me actually get sick. I don’t like the feel of some clothes fabrics. I always like cottony ones and I’m really sensitive to smells. I can’t deal with the smell of anything agricultural or anything to do with a farm.

There are lots of other things that can bother me like the smell of cigarettes, babies’ drool (I don’t really like babies until they are a bit more mature and have dried up).

I often can’t sit still, so at home I’m allowed play a ball and hit it against a wall to work off steam. In bad weather, I like to spin around like mad a few times which I call helicoptering.

Settles  me down

When I feel nervous, ‘emotious”‘ sad or a bit hyper I need, what I call a ‘squish’. A squish means Mum gets me in  really tight hug and squeezes – it’s a bit like Temple Grandin’s hug-machine. It really settles me down. In school when I need a squish I do things like roll up my sleeves or tighten my shoelaces.

I find it difficult trust people or new things. I know my autism makes me do whacky things and we get a laugh out of them, but I can do a normal things too. Overall, I like being different. My friends like me just the way I am too. I like the world through Asperger’s eyes.

When you get older, you can see that everybody is different somehow, that’s what makes the world interesting. I keep on learning at every new stage of my life. My Mum says she can read me like a book, and I say I use her like an encyclopaedia.

It works out good.

Fionn Hamill is 12-years-old and writes a blog called autisticandproud.

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