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.