By Clara H
During my first few years of grade school, I had no friends. I thought that I did, but now when I look back, I had none. It's not that people weren't interested; I was just a confusing kid.
It wasn't until I was nine years old until I made some school friends. Even then, the friendships were so hard to maintain. I did not know how they worked. I would get into arguments with my friends constantly.
I would also copy my peers' behaviors to blend in, which wasn't always the best thing. If they were mean to me, I would be mean to someone else. How would I, a socially awkward child, know who and what to look up to?
Through my eyes, the other kids were the weird ones. I didn't see anything wrong with myself. The other kids were the ones who needed "fixing." That's why I was in complete shock to find out about my autism diagnosis. How I viewed myself and how I saw other people had completely changed in just one day.
At age eleven, I was back at no friends. I had begun a new school: jr. high. This school had a lot of interesting students. It was flooded with bullies. Making friends was more challenging than ever. By this point, I could actually recognize the bullying because of how extreme it was.
I am thankful that two special people in my grade had come into my life while I was attending this school. They were great! They helped me through a very tough time. They stood up for me and supported me. I can't say how much I appreciate them.
In high school, I had met a ton of other students on the spectrum. It was so eye opening. For a long time, I felt like I was the only one. The feeling of having other people understand you after being so alone is comforting. Some of them are very close to me. I know I am loved.
Relationships are probably one of the most challenging things about autism for me. I will likely always struggle with it to some extent. However, the close friends I've had taught me how powerful friendship truly is. It's an experience that I will never forget.
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