Autism: A voice from the students
By: JAMES CLAIBORNE
The STLCC Meramec campus has enrolled several students over the past few semesters that have been diagnosed with some type of mental or physical condition.
The most common condition is Autism, which is mostly diagnosed in males.
A few students on the Meramec campus who were diagnosed with Autism have developed phenomenal leadership skills.
Luke Barber, a new student to the Meramec campus, has been diagnosed with high- functioning autism, specifically Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDDNOS).
Being new to the campus and also a trio student, Barber wants to connect with other individuals who are diagnosed with the same unique characteristics, he said.
“I will feel more successful surrounding myself around more students with the same characteristics like myself,” Barber said.
Student Alex Mitchell, a chemistry major, goes to his instructors’ offices when he needs help, he said.
Maureen McGrath, who works in the academic support center, helped Mitchell with his reading skills, he said.
She was also his instructor in Reading 030 and his tutor. “One of the key things is getting help,” Mitchell said. Mitchell is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa.
“I get good grades,” Mitchell said. “I am expected to graduate this summer, and will be going to SIUE.”
Kyle Perskinski, a philosphy major, said he has more mental illnesses than you can count on one hand.
“I have OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, gathers ryes anxiety disorders, ADHD and even a few others including Mania,” he said. OCD, Asperger’s and depression would be Perskinski’s primary diagnoses.
“These are the mental illness over the years that have had the greatest impact on my life,” Perskinski said. However, I would say that not every mental illness is a disability.”
Perskinski was the only student in his high school who he knew was struggling with this many issues, he said.
“All my life I felt alone,” Perskinski said. “I can’t think of any other person that had to overcome as many as mental problems as I had.”
“I felt unique even though I felt simultaneously and strange and alone,” Perskinski said. “I happen to be a high functioning autistic individual so I fall on the high end of the autistic spectrum. I was recently described as a friend admiral; I’m also involved in the socratic club, environmental club, free thinkers club, and am a Trio Tutor.”
Perskinski tells people that he is not mentally disabled, he said. He tells them he is mentally enabled.
When you combine Asperger’s and OCD, you get a more potent mixture that allows you to work tirelessly toward your goals, Perskinski said.
“While you may struggle with other mental disorders, these two in particular have made my life much easier to live,” Perskinski said.
Perskinski is related to those with learning and physical disabilities as well as mental illnesses through Meramec’s Focus on Abilities club, he said. He is currently their vice president.
“I only achieve success as a result of working closely with doctors and school officials – especially counselors and people in the access office,” Perskinski said. “This is how I overcome these mental difficulties.”
When Perskinski can tell that somebody might feel out of place, he turns to kindness, he said. “I try to be kind to these individuals because I understand what it’s like to struggle,” Perskinski said. “And when I meet students and sometimes even faculty and staff who have the same conditions or similar conditions, I immediately empathize with them and I tell them how grateful I am that they shared this information with me. It makes me feel as of though I am understood.”
Students can reach out to the access office for assistance that can accommodate their needs in order to be successfully academically involved like Luke Barber, Alex Mitchell and Kyle Perskinski.
The Access office is located in Clark Hall, room 120 and can be
contacted at email@example.com
Accept those with Autism
By: LEXIE KELLER
People already see my name in the paper as one of the staff writers, but what they do not know is that I am also autistic.
Everyday, I tend to experience things differently than the neurotypical person. Neurotypical is a term that autistics use that means anyone who is not autistic.
A lot of autistics also have sensory processing disorder which means our senses can be overstimulated or understimulated depending on the environment that we are placed in.
I get overstimulated sometimes when there is too much noise in one place. For example, a neurotypical may think the Meramec cafeteria is not that loud but I may cover my ears or walk off to a quieter spot because the cafeteria is too loud for me to handle because there are too many people talking at once in one place.
Processing information differently does not make me less human, though.
Autistics are constantly dehumanized by the use of labels created by doctors and psychologists for diagnosing where a person is on the autism spectrum.
For example, autistics who are diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or high- functioning autism are usually seen as very creative, intelligent people while autistics that need 24-hour support — and are nonverbal — are usually seen as unintelligent and a burden to their caregivers. When people act like treating someone with autism is difficult, it is dehumanizing for us.
By treating someone with autism better, people think they are doing a good deed or being a hero. It is not about being a hero, but about treating people decently.I understand that we are different, but it is really not that hard to treat us like humans.
People cover more of the high-functioning autistics on the news, but they do not cover low-functioning autistics unless they are getting better — or they run away from home and the police have to come find them.
Nonverbal autistics are just as important. They have their own way of processing things and they’re talented in their own ways.
I hope that in the future people will be able to accept us more for the way we are. Do not make a big deal out of meeting an autistic person, or seeing them or being friends with them — just treat them like you would any other person.
Do not think you will fail
By: IAN SCHRAUTH
Sometimes, it is hard for us to sociality interact with other people — but that does not stop us from doing great things.
One benefit of my autism is that when I am writing, all of my focus is on the piece. I believe that this is a good thing because if I need to do something in a rush, I can do it swiftly, and get it done.
It may not be the most perfect thing in the world, but it will be finished.
I mean, Susan Boyle is a well-known singer (Not as well known as Adele) but she is known by a lot of people. She has autism.
Autism can go a long way — and mostly in the workplace.
I strongly believe that if you are autistic, you can do great things. A lot of times you can take a whole computer apart and put it back together. Most of the time, we are tech savvy.
Sometimes, autism has its downfalls. For example, when I have a conversation with someone, I stutter a lot or put words in the wrong sequence.
When I argue a point that I am correct in, I do not know how to get the words out, and I look like a complete fool. Some autistic people do not have the same condition I do, but they either sound out the words or the words get “stuck” in their mind, and they ca not say it correctly. I believe that this is the same as my problem.
Something else I have noticed in my life is the way I act in social situations. Some people think that I am weird, offensive — or sometimes rude.
I do not tend to be rude, weird, or offensive at all. I do not think anybody wants to come off as those things. Some autistic people have a problem with this type of stuff, and if someone finds us like that, they should not react in a rude or weird way — or possibly snap. Some of us don’t know when we are doing it.
Autistic people have a lot of disadvantages, but there are more advantages than disadvantages. Do not think you cannot succeed. There are several reasons why you can.