When he was diagnosed with autism at five years old, Trevor Pacelli knew that his childhood and adolescence would be drastically different than that of his peers. But he never let his disorder hold him back -- now 19, Pacelli is a published author. His book, "Six-Word Lessons On Growing Up Autistic: 100 Lessons To Understand How Autistic People See Life," offers practical guidance for understanding autism, and insight on the way that autistic kids and teens view the world. In the excerpt below, Pacelli shares 10 things you should know about autistic teens.
They get either A's or F's.
With some autistic kids, their brains allow them to do either tremendously well or horribly. One may be a master in science and just breeze through all the labs, but just cannot perform a math equation to save his life.
Nobody on Earth thinks like them.
I have met very few people who have the same wide-ranged, detailed thinking style that I possess. Every individual who has autism has a unique way of thinking, which can provide help in areas that no one else can.
Time alone vs. time with others.
Most autistic kids need time alone. I have always felt that having time by myself helps me to unwind and smell the petunias. But this doesn’t mean I’m antisocial. I still enjoy the company of friends and family, just not as much as most people.
Some actually prefer to be alone.
While I do not necessarily always want to be alone, I still feel much more sustainable with myself and able to unleash my emotions when I’m on my own. Others who are like me may also feel happier when alone.
Balance solo activities with parental interaction.
While it was easy for my parents to leave me alone to play when I was young, part of my speech and language therapy was for them to actually play with me and talk to me in specific ways that taught me to communicate better. It just needs to be balanced with the needed time alone.
They also want to go out.
In high school, even though I needed time alone, hanging out with people outside of school was my main desire. I felt very envious whenever I saw my friends hang out with others and felt a powerful urge to fit in with everyone else.
They need to vent their problems.
Some may have to explain what’s troubling them immediately to others. But it has always been important to me to have some time alone for a while to reflect over what is bothering me before expressing it verbally.
Getting out helps their social skills.
I can name times I have been out with friends and said things that have hurt someone’s feelings. But getting out and being with friends helped me to be more aware of other people’s reactions and emotions.
Everyone needs to be socially active.
If everybody avoided socializing and never left their house, then the world would be a terribly boring place! Every human who has ever lived -- even those with autism -- has his piece to fill in this giant puzzle known as society.
Some can have sudden mood swings.
One minute, they love talking to others. Then suddenly, a painful memory comes up in their heads and they no longer want to speak. I always have this happen to me and it certainly affects how I react around others.