I Don’t Wonder Why Anymore
Jacob Artson Age 14 “So called low functioning Autism” Los Angeles, CA
You have probably never met anyone like me. For most of my life, I was treated as a retarded person. I can’t speak or write, and therefore people assumed for the first seven years of my life that my cognitive abilities must be coextensive with my motor abilities – that is, virtually nonexistent. When I was seven years old, a speech therapist introduced me to typing and my life began anew. At first, I wondered often why I had to struggle so intensely to produce a simple communication that others take for granted, without even being aware of all the intricate interactions going on in their brains but not in mine. Later I began to wonder whether I had committed some awful sin for which I was being punished by not being able to speak or move my body like all the kids around me.
There have been many supporters in my life, and some detractors as well. In fifth grade, my teacher taught me one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. I had finally been allowed back on a general education campus after two years at a nonpublic school where I had been banished after biting the assistant principal at my
home school. My teacher, fortunately, didn’t know anything about my background, and so she treated me as a person capable of accomplishing anything she trusted me to do. I had never been trusted to achieve anything before and I didn’t want to betray her trust. At the end of that year, I won an award for most improved behavior.
Every person alive is encumbered by challenges and blessed with gifts. Perhaps my ratio of challenges to gifts is higher than most, but I also know that I have so many people who believe in me and share my dream of being a productive member of society. It is tempting to spend life wondering about why we have been saddled with illness or poverty or dysfunctional family members or some other perceived or real curse, but in the end our lives are measured by what we do with the cards we have been dealt. So I no longer wonder why I have been forced to deal with autism rather than some other challenge. Instead, I think of all the opportunities I have missed while wasting energy wondering why I was given lemons instead of lemonade. I realize that I just have to find a new recipe for lemonade. Maybe it will even taste just as good as the store bought lemonade, but it will probably be even better because it is homemade, not from concentrate.