Tuesday, October 26, 2010


If you've been following my Twitter updates lately, you'll know that I went to Manhattan recently for a visit to a new middle school called Quest to Learn. The students there learn through games. Completely seriously. It was the first time I'd ever seen middle schoolers so excited to go to class and get to work. The thing that fascinated me, though, was the way they fostered acceptance and diversity in that school. It honestly almost made me cry.

This was something I doodled in my notes at the school as I visited that I thought was worth sharing. I had a conversation with a kid about COD (that's Call of Duty for you non-gamer people), Mario Kart 64, and Zelda. And honestly? He sounded just like me when I was his age. Since the kids at Q2L learn through a game format (their exam week is even called their 'Boss Levels'), the fact that I can speak gamer allowed me to actually get along well with the students and not be made fun of for once. When I was their age, my ability to speak serious gamer kind of ostracized me. Now, this kid and I were talking about how I entered a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament in tenth grade. His only question: "Did you win?" I proudly told him that I (and Roy, the character I mentioned in my last post as being my first crush - sad, I know) did, in fact, win the whole thing. I've never been able to say that anywhere offline and be considered cool.

I also got the greatest reaction from a girl in a sixth grade history class when I told her I wanted to write historical graphic novels. She gave me the biggest smile and told me, "That is SO COOL!" I think maybe, just maybe, I'm going in the right direction with my life. I just...these kids inspired me beyond belief, and it really made me feel good about myself for a change. This school was a place where a kid like me would have thrived, and I wish I could've attended it growing up. There was something about it that just seemed like a perfect fit for a girl like me.

P.S. You really can't fault me for falling in love with a video game character if he's cute, okay?

Monday, October 11, 2010

...I don't get it.

Understanding the world around me can be really hard for me sometimes. Social rules, especially, really perplex me. Growing up, I didn't really fit in at all because I didn't understand why other girls did the things they did. I didn't even have a crush on a boy until seventh grade - and he was a video game character - so I couldn't even talk to them about that. They matured faster than I did.

I was definitely a tomboy as a kid (and still arguably am, if that term applies to adults these days). I grew up playing with boys because most of the girls around me didn't know why I liked dinosaurs and cars and astronomy and why I didn't want to play house with them or why I didn't want to pretend to be a mother to a doll. To be frank, I didn't need a doll - I had a kid brother to help take care of in real life, and I've never been in a state of cat-lessness before, so I had them to raise.

Middle school and I didn't get along too well. I was basically ostracized for being different, and a lot of kids teased me (and went so far as to call me ugly in some cases). That, forever, will be something I never understand. I was a nerd, definitely, and I was really smart and could memorize information after hearing it only once. But I couldn't fit in, so I was tossed aside and mocked for not being like the others.

I don't think I ever regained my confidence fully after middle school. I was made fun of in high school, too, but to a much lesser degree, but it got to the point where I started wearing my headphones in between classes just in case someone decided to try to be mean to me. I think the worst part was that no other students ever stood up for me.

I'm twenty-one years old now, and I'm a lot more confident than I was my first year here in college (I'm a senior now), but there's still some reservations I have about myself. I still don't think I'm the type of girl guys like to date, I still get closed off in public because I'm afraid of being automatically disliked for being myself, and I'm still reluctant to socialize with people who aren't really similar to me. It just...I don't feel comfortable with it because of all that teasing.

I've been thinking about this a lot more lately because Tyler Clementi was a graduate of my alma mater, Ridgewood High School. The more that poor, innocent boy crosses my mind, the more I wonder if that could have been me. Tyler was gay. I'm mildly autistic. We both were made fun of for things that weren't our fault - they were just part of who we were (and are).

I may not understand why people are so scared of people who are different from themselves, but what I do understand is that what makes us different is also what makes us individuals. If someone's making fun of you, make sure you let people know - nobody should be allowed to do that to you. It's not fair to you, and it shows how insecure they are as people, since if you have to boost your own self-esteem by knocking down someone else's, you must not be a confident person.

Nobody deserves that.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Who are you?

Hey, there, people who I hope are reading this! I know I may seem sort of antisocial in real life (as you can probably tell by that face I'm making in the picture on the right), but I do like people. They just make me tired in person sometimes.

My name is Steph, and I'm a twenty-one year old college senior with Asperger's syndrome. I've realized recently that I'm in a pretty good position to help out other people like me. There are a lot of kids growing up on the autism spectrum and I want to help them realize that they can do anything they want to do, so I decided to start this blog! Basically, what I'm going to do is illustrate my life with Asperger's and share my experiences with all of you so you can see how I'm getting by and what my life is like as a young adult with the syndrome!

As you can probably tell by how I'm dressed in my first drawing, my 'special interest' is in baseball. I currently want to be a baseball historian, and I love the Red Sox and Mets and have a budding investment in the Orioles since they're the closest Major League team to my college. As I write this, actually, I'm watching the Rangers and the Rays playing in the ALDS at the Trop. Since I'm blessed with Asperger's, I'm sort of a walking baseball encyclopedia, and once I learn something about the game I don't forget it. My obsession with baseball occasionally confuses and frustrates other people trying to talk to me, which I'll definitely discuss on this blog at some point at length.

My other passions are writing and drawing (as this blog's existence is proof of), history (specifically military history and, of course, baseball history), manga/anime, driving my car, reading, and my four cats, Mittens, Gimli, Tony and Murphy. You'll get to know all of my cats soon enough on this blog, as I talk about them a lot - they're some of my best friends. I also have a great family and some really supportive friends, and they're what keep me going!

So I hope you enjoy this blog - my goal is to show you that we kids on the autism spectrum can do anything! I believe in all of you, and I hope you believe in yourselves, too!