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About this iReport
  • Approved for CNN

  • Posted May 3, 2013 by
    Tstocks2013
    Location
    Greenville, North Carolina
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Student voices in journalism

    More from Tstocks2013

    The autistic writer

     

    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Over the years, Tstocks2013 has struggled finding a job that fit with his disability. After discovering a passion for writing, however, he knew that journalism was the profession within which he could succeed despite having Asperger's. 'I had to find something that would allow me to be creative, expressive and writing allowed me to do this. I never made it in retail, fast food because of the very hectic environments.'

    To this day, he continues to work on his communication skills and body language among other things. But it has all paid off in the long run, as he is now a published writer with the whole world ahead of him. 'I have learned how to become more independent and not let challenges get in the way of accomplishing my goals.'

    Once he graduates, his dream would to be to work as an on-air journalist. He sees journalism as not only a future career, but as 'a calling.' 'Being able to write and talk about the issues affecting everyone around me is a tremendous privilege. In one word, passion is the reason why I chose journalism.'

    This letter written by Tstocks2013 was originally submitted to and published by www.ReadTheSpirit.com online magazine, as a part of their coverage on Autism.
    - jne2013, CNN iReport producer

    Giving Autism a Personal Voice

     

    By Tyler Stocks

     

    I have Asperger’s Syndrome and remember how hard it was to communicate with others and socialize as a child. As an adult now, I realize that I have been successful because of coaches, counselors, doctors, teachers and my parents who gave me validation.

     

    As a child, I had great difficulty looking others in the eye. I did not like to play with other children and kept to myself most of the time. I had great trouble expressing my emotions and had no sense of humor when it came to jokes. This is common for children with this syndrome.

     

    At school, my inability to communicate made life difficult. I often felt isolated. This got worse over time and I became socially withdrawn.

     

    My parents took me to see a child psychologist who recognized my problems and insisted that I be tested for autism. I was referred to a team of specialists at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. The doctors told my parents that I had Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.

     

    I had severe verbal impairments. In addition, doctors discovered that my brain was delayed anywhere from two to four years. The doctors at Johns Hopkins insisted I participate in extra-curricular activities when I got home so that my childhood would be as normal as possible.

     

    Socialization is essential to overall development among autistic individuals. I am living proof. My success with communication today is due to the interaction I’ve had with so many others.

     

    The audacity of my mother to place me in a public school, rather than a “Special-School,” has been critical to my success. Counselors took time with me; speech therapists believed in me. I was told on a daily basis, “You can become whatever you want to be.”

     

    I interacted with the public, participated in extra-curricular activities. I played sports in high school. My coaches befriended me and shared words of encouragement. The idea of someone believing in me made a big difference. The more I was socialized, the more I prospered.

     

    Today, I am a college student and my professors tell me that I have an expansive vocabulary. But words are not my only interest. I really enjoy history. I enjoy discussions about European history and early church history and discussions about the cradle of ancient civilization: Mesopotamia.

     

    Dates are important as they help me map out events in an organized format. Being autistic, organization is a must. This skill proves valuable inside and outside of the classroom.

     

    Today, I am a published writer. My pieces have appeared in USA Today and the New York Times. I enjoy writing letters to various newspapers and am proud to see many of those letters published.

     

    Growing up autistic has been incredibly challenging but having others push me along and include me in society makes the difference. The key to a successful life for people with autism is being welcomed, rather than marginalized.

     

    Today, I have the skills to communicate easily in my personal interactions and, through my writing, I feel comfortable speaking to the whole world. But had it not been for the coaches, counselors, doctors, teachers and loving parents who believed in me, my story would be quite different.

     

    They helped me to give autism a voice.

     

    Tyler Stocks is a journalist, and  freelance writer who lives in Greenville, North Carolina, where he attends college. Tyler is majoring in communcation with a concentration in journalism. His essays, columns and letters have appeared nationwide. He specializes in writing about contemporary global issues, religion and spirituality.

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