The Echo Chamber: Me and My Disability

I’m partially autistic. While I might be technically autistic, I prefer to go use the label that I’ve had for the majority of my life.

What I have is PDD-NOS, which more or less just means my social skills aren’t the greatest, my upper arm strength is limited and my motor skills aren’t the best either.

Why start the blog with this? It’s because I feel like this is the one thing I want to share that people don’t know about me all the time.

With disabilities, they tend to be hit and miss in how they can be noticed. They either are, like if someone has a physical disability, or they’re not if someone has a mental disability.

In my case, it’s the latter. My disability is something that has made me have to work around it no matter what I do in college. While it hasn’t hindered me too much, it hasn’t exactly made things easier. Thankfully, the Disability Center here at UCA has plenty of staff who are willing to help me out if I have any issues.

The thing about having a disability, when it’s like mine at least, is that it doesn’t hinder you in your everyday life like you might think it does.

There’s a bit of a stigma with having a disability that makes people assume you may have to treat someone differently or look at them with a grain of salt. While that doesn’t happen to me, I often wonder if people would look at me differently if they knew how I really was.

Admittedly, it can get annoying or become a bit of a burden when you have to talk to your professors every single semester about your disability. It doesn’t always help when you have to explain to them why you need to use a laptop, even if it may go against whatever policy they may have.

Personally, I like using mine for notes due to the fact that my hands could easily tire out after writing for long periods of time as well as just that my writing isn’t the best anyway.

The main reason I’m talking about this is one of the main things about my college life; it’s that I’m in the Honors College here on campus.

College has been a struggle, to say the least, in certain aspects. My anxiety has gotten worse as I’ve gone through more classes, and while it hasn’t affected me all the time, it makes it to where the days before tests can be an absolute nightmare no matter how confident I feel earlier on in the day.

Socially, things can be a bit tough as well. I’ve gotten used to being around my roommates but meeting new people in general isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do.

I know that’s probably something that just sounds like a bit of a general feeling for new people, but it’s a constant thing for me. Who do I trust? Who do I talk to? It doesn’t help when I need to try to get people I can contact in specific classes if I need help, but for one reason or another, I just can’t get myself to talk to them. It’s annoying and it’s hard to overcome at times.

Why am I talking about all this in the first place? The first reason is because want to make people aware that stuff like this can exist and that people who have disabilities such as mine are just as normal as you. Granted, it’s true that we may act differently, but that doesn’t mean that just because autism can be used as an insult or a phrase used in jokes means that you should apply that to someone who actually is.

If someone in your class has a disability, whether physical or mental, take the time to talk to them. Give them the chance to be social or at least improve their experience. If nothing else, just be aware and try to respect them as much as possible. People use language that doesn’t need to be used, whether they seriously mean to cause harm or just use it in place of something else.  

The second reason would have to be that if you have any sort of experience with some sort of mental disorder that it is going to be okay no matter what. Whether it’s ADHD, ADD, Autism, something with anxiety or something completely different, there are sources for you to make it through the day.

I’m not trying to make this into a self-help blog or anything like that, I’m saying this from personal experience. I’ve had moments where I get really anxious about things in class more than I should be or that I might have to do something different in a test or other part of class where I might have more trouble because of my disability.

Yet, despite everything that’s been presented before me in terms of challenges, I feel that I’ve been able to conquer them. Admittedly, this can apply to everyone who goes to college. No matter what happens, you can make it through what your classes and life present. I’ve been able to improve as a person because of my time here in the Honors College and nothing about having autism can damage that.

I have absolutely no idea how many people will read this or how many people will consider what I’m saying, but I just want to put out there that no matter how bad life gets you will always get through the worst things it throws at you.

That’s something that I tell myself constantly no matter what challenge presents itself. Use the sources you have, talk to friends, family, online friends, whatever’s available. No matter what you have, who you are, or what you need to try to make life better, things will always get better whether it’s related to your college life or your own personal life.

Coming from someone who’s had life go up and down, for multiple reasons, I know they will. I promise.

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