Why I Do What I Do
Maisie Soetantyo, Age 7
This is My Autistic Story
I am proudly Autistic/ADHD and have been for the past 5-plus decades. Autism does not have ‘a look’; it presents itself in much more invisible ways. When I was a young child in Indonesia I had dysphagia, I had problems chewing & swallowing foods. I was always the last one leaving the table. Foods just sat in my mouth, and someone had to urge me to chew & swallow. I drank so much water that I used to have nightmares about choking.
I struggled learning to read. I saw letters and numbers backwards but no one knew about this at school. My Mom knew, and she spent time with me everyday after she came home from work to teach me and catch up with school work.
I had different ‘social scenarios’ that I played in my head, and after school I would play back all conversations I’d had during the day to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid. I talked to myself a lot when I was alone and I had an imaginary friend to practice how to talk to my peers in various contexts. I had anxiety about keeping up with academics and school life. I couldn’t sleep and my eyes would pop open at 4 am and I would feel compelled to get up and review school work. I never liked school.
I have auditory processing difficulties so listening while expected to multitask is impossible for me. I can’t filter out complex background noises. I suck at math, time management and anything that has to do with “How many…? ”or “How long…”. I am also directionally challenged. I could drive for a while before realizing I am lost, or I would knock on the wrong house even though I have been there before. Now I know that I have dyscalculia.
I am not stupid, distracted or lazy. I am STREET smart, resilient, and I may not know what you are talking about now, but I always get there with a big BANG!! You can say that “I am very restless” but this is because I refuse to settle for less in the causes I believe in. I have so many ideas popping into my head, and I wish this world to be a better place for neurodivergent children someday.
Why am I an advocate for autistic individuals?
I decided to be openly autistic because I don’t want autistic girls in my home country to stay hidden. They deserve to stand tall with their autistic pride. I was not born brave. I became who I am today because my parents raised me as ME! They let me fail, and therefore I am not afraid to start over or to lean on others. Thank all of you for being here as we learn, create and support each other!
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