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Home > Share Magazine Winter 2016 > Autism and Me

Autism and Me

Emma Kirby

Hello! My name is Emma and I have Asperger’s Syndrome. Before I go on to talk about my Asperger’s, I would like to tell you a little about myself. I am 15 years old but going to be 16 soon. I am in 4th year at Eastwood High School. I love science (space) and maths. My favourite colour is blue and I have a mum called Linda, a dad called Michael and a brother called Andrew who all have Asperger’s too.

I was diagnosed when I was four but never really understood at the time and when I was eight, I knew I had Asperger’s, just didn’t know what it was. In primary school people would ask if that meant I had ‘behavioural problems’ as I did get into a lot of temper tantrums. Then I did a split placement at Carlibari (Carlibar Communications Centre, Barrhead, Glasgow) which helped me control my temper a lot better and I met children who also had a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.

Before I started high school, I went to a group run by the Autistic Outreach Teacher who is based in another secondary school in East Renfrewshire, where I met people who were going to my high school who also had Asperger’s (all boys). This was great as it introduced me to people who are like me and it gave us a chance to get to know the staff at the support base, which made the transition smoother.

When I was going into 3rd year and picking my subjects, I picked all three sciences. Science and maths are my favourite subjects because they make sense to me and I’m not a big fan of English as there can be multiple answers to particular questions but in maths and science (especially physics) they all have one definitive answer which makes sense to me. I also picked geography, because it was like another science, health and food tech, because that is food science and P.E Nat5 because I had to make P.E worth my while (but it still isn’t).

The reason that I became interested in Science in the first place was space. As I recall, I was four and remember seeing a space poster in my brother’s room, since then I have been interested in space. I went to the Kennedy Space Centre a few years ago and loved it. During the winter, my dad and I frequently go to the Coats Observatory in Paisley when it’s a clear night (which is a rarity!). I was part of my school’s Astronomy Club in 1st year and the Science Club in 1st and 2nd year.

I recently went to Space School for a week ran by ISSET (International Space School Educational Trust). It was a great experience as I got to meet people who are also interested in space. During the week, we got talks from people who specialised in muscles and how space affects them, someone who was a specialist in contact lenses and again, how space affects them and a talk from astronaut Michael Foale who told us of his time during the shuttle missions and his time at the Mir and International Space Station.

At the end of 4th year, the physics department at Eastwood High School puts on a trip to the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) in Cern. I really want to go but it would be my first time away from my family (even though it’s a couple of nights) but I try to not let my anxiety get the better of me as I wouldn’t want to miss out on a trip of a lifetime.

I have a basic outline of what I want to do when I leave school; I want to do a degree in Physics at Strathclyde University and then maybe a post-graduate qualification in Astronomy at Glasgow University. The reason I want to do this is to keep my options open as I might change my mind about astronomy and might find that I like something else, or I might even want to do something that’s not physics related for example, food science or a degree in maths.

I’m not a social butterfly as I like to have a limited number of friends (3) and I prefer to spend time with my family instead. I don’t tend to make the effort to see my friends during the summer or any holiday, or at the weekend even though they are nice people. I have a little saying “school friends are for school”. I don’t like being in social situations as I don’t understand some jokes and find it hard to detect sarcasm. In my 1st year at high school, a couple of girls I sat next to in Geography would test me with really obvious sarcasm to the not so obvious and would laugh as I find it hard to detect any.

Another thing is I can be really blunt at times but I try not to be. When I’m joking around with someone, I may have to tell them that I was joking because sometimes I can be really harsh but I don’t mean it in a cruel sense.

Despite having Asperger’s Syndrome, I don’t let it control my every action, thought or sense of ability as I am just as good as everyone else. I don’t let people tell me I’m different and therefore shouldn’t do certain things. I refuse to conform to what society expects for my age, i.e. hair, make-up, clothes, these things are not important to me.

I am my own person and no-one can change that.