Pathways+by+Bernica+Wilcox

Pathways by Bernica Wilcox

Autism and Me

April 24, 2020

Ever since I can remember, I always felt a little different. I saw and felt what was around me, but I couldn’t always express myself. My parents told me that my language was delayed, and I was diagnosed when I was three years old.  My name is Nadav Gerber, and I have autism. 

Looking back, it has been a long journey. I am now a senior in High School and I have always wanted to share with others what it’s like to have autism. 

I view the world differently than most people. In order for me to be able to concentrate and think, I constantly need to fidget. The constant touch of fidgeting with cable ties makes me more calm and focused. I remember watching the film “Temple Grandin”. Temple Grandin is a famous person with autism. She talked about needing to be squeezed in order for her to be focused and calm. She discovered that when she worked at her aunt’s farm and got into a squeeze machine intended for the cows. The strong metal touch, as much as it may sound weird, felt great on her body. She went on to have a very successful career as a professor, writer, and speaker; she is one of my role models. 

My typical day at GHS is like another kid’s day. I go and find my first class before the bell rings. 

My autism affects me whenever I’m overwhelmed with work, or have a hard time focusing. Is not an easy job. But I mostly get through my work without any trouble. Also, I have academic support and very kind teachers who help me with my assignments, and understand the materials. During  lunch, I get to sit with my friends, talk, and plan events. It’s my favorite time of the day. Some of my other friends with autism may get overwhelmed when there is a lot of noise, or people. For me, it’s less of a problem and I like attending parties such as the Junior Event. I loved the music and dancing and I really enjoyed hanging out with my friends. 

Like Grandin and other people with autism, I am a rule follower. Sometimes, I wish I could take more risks, because it could lead to some adventure and fun experiences, but I generally feel more secure and safe when I follow the rules. I think my goal for the future is to find a way to feel more comfortable with getting outside my comfort zone. 

Right now, I feel the most comfortable with my friends who also have autism. It’s not that I don’t like people without autism, I do. I have a few friends who have been with me since elementary school and I love them dearly. In recent years, I have become closer with my Autistic friends, because I find them relatable. We share a similar group identity, similar interests, and unconditionally accept each other for who we are. Other people may not accept me for who I am, and I am very lucky to have a close and loving family, who make me feel safe and loved. 

My younger brother Gilad is a best friend to me. He is a playful and funny brother that I am very lucky to have. I don’t know where I would be right now if it weren’t for Gilad. My Dad is a really cool guy – he is very crafty, and likes to invent things. He is also a very good cook, and he is always ready to make me my favorite dishes: steak, burger casserole, rice, or schnitzel. My mom is a loving person, who always makes me feel safe and has a great Israeli family. She has been taking me to Israel ever since I was 3 months old. Traveling to Israel has made me understand my heritage better, and it made me feel more flexible than I would have been anywhere else. I have learned to speak some Hebrew and communicate with my Israeli family, who has a different culture than we do.  

My interests are different from most people. I’m not into social media at all. Social media in general has problems that I tend to avoid, like cyberbullying and harassment. I like collecting VHS tapes, mainly those from the TV series Rugrats, which I am a huge fan of. This may sound weird to you, but it feels really comforting to be connected to a show that I watched as a kid. 

I’m also a normal gamer. I like playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate on my Nintendo Switch with my brother. I share these interests with my friends, and we have fun spending time together. I like laughing, and making people laugh with my comedy. 

I usually understand humor much better than other people with autism,  because I’m more flexible, and I can accept a joke. That makes me more human, and I can get jokes from anything I see.

My inspirations include, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver. The biggest thing that I learned from comedians is that laughing is healthy and it makes even the toughest moments bearable. I have even learned to laugh at myself when I play charades with my family.

From what I have learned over the past 17 years of  life, it takes a village to achieve your goals, and I want to end by saying – I’m grateful for my village. I’m thankful to my family and friends for supporting me all along, but mostly I want to thank the school community, and my friends at GHS for making me feel welcome here.

34 Comments

34 Responses to “Autism and Me”

  1. Merry Gerber on April 24th, 2020 10:42 am

    Nadav,
    As always, YOU MAKE ME SO PROUD!!! You are an awesome young man and I am so glad you belong to our family. I love you so much!
    Nana

  2. Kamila Pomiecinska on April 24th, 2020 11:05 am

    Great article Nadav! I love the comedians that inspire you! Here is to more laughs in the future!

  3. Judith Traub on April 24th, 2020 1:23 pm

    Nadav is so clear in his explanation of how Autism affects him, and makes clear that others with that diagnosis are affected differently. His support from family and community have clearly enabled him to develop his mind, his interests and to focus on what is important. It will be fascinating to see where life takes Nadav, or where Nadav takes life.

  4. Rissi Orlando on April 24th, 2020 7:37 pm

    So well written Nadav! Miss you and can’t wait to see the amazing things you’re going to accomplish!

  5. elizabeth tarr on April 24th, 2020 7:54 pm

    Nadav!!! I’m so excited for you. I loved getting the chance to reread your piece. I also love that it was published in the last publication of your high school career!

    I’m so proud of you Nadav!!

    Ms. Tarr

  6. Mrs Brennan on April 24th, 2020 8:11 pm

    Nadav, it’s been a pleasure knowing you at Ghs
    . This letter is beautifully written and thank you for sharing it . Hope you an your family are doing well . Take care Mrs Brennan

  7. Aunt Sandy and Uncle David on April 24th, 2020 8:18 pm

    Nadav.,
    What a beautiful and inspirational letter Nadav. We were mesmerized and completely interested and intone to your lovely letter. We wish we could be with your wonderful family more often. We would love for you, when you come to Fla to come visit us also. We feel very lucky to have you in our lives as do your family friends, and GHS community. I know you will grow to be a very ambitious and very handsome young man. We love you lots. Aunt Sandy and Uncle David

  8. Mrs Pinkham on April 24th, 2020 8:29 pm

    This is a wonderful essay about you Nadav. You are a very smart , funny and kind young man. You work hard and are an amazing friend. You have taught me many things about autism. keep up the good work . Thank you for sharing this with me.

  9. Naama Levin on April 25th, 2020 12:08 am

    Hi Nadav,

    You write beautifully ! It helped me understand how you feel and manage with your Autism.
    I hope to see you again in Israel, we enjoy having you and Your family around.

    Hugs from Israel,
    Naama & Eldad

  10. Sandra Castro on April 25th, 2020 8:02 am

    Nadav!

    Thank you so much for sharing this uplifting essay with me! It brought a boost to my spirit in these challenging times. It sounds as if you have become quite the confident young man. I wish all young people had the self-awareness that you seem to possess.

    It does take a village to achieve your goals. I’m so glad, honored actually, to have been part of your village. My best wishes to you as you move forward.!

    Best,
    Mrs. Castro

  11. Jane Poirier on April 25th, 2020 8:30 am

    Nadav, I really loved reading your essay.

    It really helps me to read it because my older sister lives with autism and I’m very close with her. It helps me to understand how she experiences the world.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are a wonderful writer and I hope to hear more stories from you.

    Take care!

  12. Joanna Mulkern on April 25th, 2020 8:33 am

    Hi Nadav – This is Mrs. Mulkern and I was your Performing Arts teacher at O’Maley. I teach high school in Salem now, but my former students are often on my mind and I always hope and wish the best for them. This beautiful essay I just read touched my heart deeply and I am so proud of you! You are an amazing young man and I feel so lucky to know you! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Best to you and your amazing family! Joanna Mulkern.

  13. Janell Andrews on April 25th, 2020 8:52 am

    Nadav, Thank you for writing a thoughtful informative article to share with your peers and the staff at GHS! Your personal story will hopefully lead to understanding and the development of sensitivities toward people who may think or behave differently from a person’s peers. I have also been an admirer of Temple Grandin. My mother’s family were Danish immigrant farmers and I spent every summer as a child with them. I was around my uncle’s stock yards filled with cattle that had been shipped from his ranch in Montana. Watching Temple Grandin’s documentary on her work with cattle showed her sensitivity for the panic cattle felt and her ability to apply personal observations to solve a problem. Another person I am sure you must be familiar with and admire is the activist Greta Thunberg who effectively tackles climate change issues. I feel that sharing your personal story with people is also a form of activism to help people develop understanding towards people in their community. Cheers to you, Nadav and thanks for sharing! Ms Andrews

  14. Sheila King on April 25th, 2020 8:58 am

    Dear Nadav,
    This is beautifully written and shares your feelings so well. Thank you for sending it to me! It was a pleasure getting to know you, I appreciated your honesty and sensitivity. Wishing you the best as you start your post high school journey and would love to hear about it in the future.
    Mrs King

  15. Rachel Rex on April 25th, 2020 9:52 am

    Nadav, thank you so much sharing this writing piece. You are very brave for sharing such personal information with the public. Your essay is beautiful written and so helpful for many of us who are not familiar with folks who have Autism. I now know you better as a student and as a person and for that I am grateful!

  16. Claire Keene on April 25th, 2020 10:52 am

    You are very fortunate to have the wonderful opportunity to express yourself through writings.

  17. Bruce Wickelgren on April 25th, 2020 3:08 pm

    Hey Nadav,

    Great piece you have here. What a wonderful job of claiming your perspective without condemning others who are unlike you. I feel like I can relate to your point of view.

    Bruce

    PS I work with your mom at Suffolk, met you a couple of times. I love the stories she tells about your humor. I hope you use this ability to relate verbally so that the rest of the world can benefit from your wit.

  18. Einav & Yael on April 26th, 2020 1:44 am

    Nadavi,

    We are all blessed that you’re part of our family!
    Can’t wait to meet you and Gilad again and enjoy your humor 🙂

    Greetings from Israel,
    from all of Madmony girls

  19. John McElhenny on April 26th, 2020 10:54 am

    Hi Nadav,

    Thank you for sharing this beautifully written piece and a little bit of yourself with us. I learned a lot about living with autism.

    It takes courage to “put yourself out there” like this. Besides being a great writer, you are a brave person. Thank you.

    – John

  20. Lisa Goldfarb on April 26th, 2020 12:52 pm

    Dear Nadav,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your article with it’s honest and great articulation of what makes you tick and cope. I love that humor is one of your saviors- but how could it not with the parents you have!
    You are a beautiful, amazing young man with great things ahead of you!
    Thank you for sharing yourself,
    Lisa (Goldfarb )

  21. M Dempsey on April 26th, 2020 1:19 pm

    Nadav, we are so proud of you! This article will help people learn about Autism, and hopefully give people a better understanding of Autism.

  22. Michele Del Vecchio on April 26th, 2020 2:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing this with us. It was lovely!

  23. Roberta Cousins on April 27th, 2020 9:52 am

    Nadav, Your way of writing is so heartful, it brought me to tears. Your love for your family is evident. I too was very close to my brother. I found you writing so informative and I am going to research Temple Grandin. You have given me a little more insight to Autism. There is nothing wrong with being a rule follower. You are an intellegent young man and thank you for sharing.

  24. Ms. Ellis on April 27th, 2020 10:51 am

    Nadav,
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings. You are a wonderful young man and all that know you ate blessed to have you in their life. You have showed everyone how to be strong and be the best you, no matter what life has dealt you. I admire your strength and will to be all that you can. Your an amazing and we are very lucky to have you in our village.
    All the best to you always,
    Ms. Ellis

  25. Barbara Kaplan on April 28th, 2020 10:16 am

    Dear Nadav,
    I have known you since you were in pre-school and have seen you grow into the caring, intelligent young man you are now. You are a warm, loving person with a heart of gold. Thank you for your beautiful essay! Your understanding of yourself and willingness to share your thoughts and feelings will help others to understand you, and the people they meet, along the way, who may be autistic. All the best to you in everything you do in the future.
    Barbara Kaplan

  26. Alison Freedman on April 28th, 2020 12:01 pm

    Amazing, Nadav! Thank you for sharing. The article was so well written and I learned a lot. -Ali

  27. Sue Bumagin on April 28th, 2020 8:03 pm

    Dear Nadav,

    Temple Grandin has also been a hero of mine for a long time because she has shown exceptional courage and ingenuity in her life and has accomplished so much that benefits others. You, too, have shown great courage – and wonderful writing skills!- in your thoughtful letter, which reminds us of how important it is to understand, respect and appreciate our differences. Thank you for sharing so much about yourself and the impact that autism has had on your life. It brings us all just a little bit closer and in these times, that is so important. Paul and I send our love to you and the family. Sue Bumagin

  28. Paul Korn on April 28th, 2020 8:05 pm

    Dear Nadav,
    It is so wonderful to hear your voice with its depth, honesty, humor, and matter-of-fact-ness. You have shared so much about your own challenges and triumphs, your reliance on family and good friends, and your ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other as you live your life, and, I assume, plan for your future. This essay is not only about your successes, but also, as you say, about the village that has supported you and your goals. I believe that you have made the case for the fact that, no matter what each of us deals with, it is our relationships, our friendships, our reliance on others and their reliance on us that helps us all. You provide insight into your experience of autism, but the lessons and solid truthfulness are examples for all of us, no matter what our challenges.
    Best to you and the whole family,
    Paul

  29. Nancy Kaufman on April 28th, 2020 11:41 pm

    Nadav,
    This is a great article by you and I am so grateful your mom shared it with me. You have always been a very “cool guy”, curious and loving. I am sharing this article with my dear friend Matt Lerner who is a professor of Psychology at Stonybrook and was the founder of “ Spotlight” in Danvers when he was in college! His research speciality is autism and I would love him to meet you!
    Sandi g lots of love to you…miss you!
    “Doda” Nancy,

  30. Irma cohen on April 30th, 2020 2:26 pm

    Nadav, you have a gift to listen ,.looking, feeling..,talking and analyzing yourself. This introspection helps you become part of a community that is different than you. It is not easy to cope for anyone. You taught me to help you get grounded when you needed that extra help. I also realized that you helped me, how to be patient to help us both. We trusted and respected each other.. I must say, I really enjoyed being with you. We became friends. I am proud I was able to be a part of your TAA school life. Your friend. , Irma Cohen. 4,24 numbers are also special to me, it’s my birthday.

  31. Mrs. Smith on May 1st, 2020 2:34 pm

    Nadav,
    I don’t even know where to begin. I am so proud of you! You have grown so much since we first met when you came into O’Maley as a sixth grader. You have and will always be an inspiration to me and all those who get the honor of knowing you! I have always loved how you embraced who you are! I cannot wait to see where this next phase in life brings you! You are awesome!

    Love, Mrs. Smith

  32. Yonit Naaman on May 7th, 2020 2:28 pm

    Hi Nadav!

    Thank you for your brilliant essay,
    I am your mom’s friend from Israel, and I enjoyed immensly getting to know you a little bit,
    Also, as I know what a wonderful person Shoshi is, it only makes sense to me that she has such a great kid, surrounded by such a loving village.

    Good Luck with the comedy and all your other interests,

    Best,
    Yonit

  33. Irma Cohen on May 10th, 2020 3:50 pm

    I thought I submitted a text to you. Sorry I don’t see it. Another. After spending time with Nader T TAA Hebrew class we became friends. We both enjoyed our meetings , how to get along with beach other, how to communicate with each other, how to respect each other. Yes, we learned from each other. No, I didn’t learn Hebrew from Nadav. But, we both learned how to be friends with each other. Thank you Nadav. My friend, Irma

  34. Smadar Lavie on May 23rd, 2020 9:55 pm

    Dear Nadav,
    What a moving piece you’ve written! Chapeau to you for your courage! and I’m so touched by your description of your embeddedness in such a supportive family. BTW- count yourself lucky not to be using social media.
    Smadar.

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