Jack is our hero. Jack is a middle school student with Asperger’s Syndrome. He has always known he was different from many of the students in his class but he never disclosed his diagnosis with any of them. He stood in front of his class last year and explained to them that he has Asperger’s Syndrome. He was honest about his challenges and difficulties and took great pride in all he has accomplished. I nod my cap to such a courageous young adult. We should all learn from Jack and take a moment to appreciate the strengths and challenges we all have.
A Transcript of Jack’s Presentation:
Hi. I’m Jack Lebersfeld. I have been in school with most of you since the 2nd grade. I am, for the most part just like you, but in some ways I am different. I have Asperger’s syndrome, also known as autism spectrum disorder or AS for short. AS is not a disease. You can’t catch it. It is not something that can be cured. It is a condition that I have and will always have. It means my brain is a little different than yours. I see the world in a slightly different way than you do. This difference has given me some great strengths, but also some big challenges. There are many characteristics of AS and I am going to share with you some of mine. I am doing this today so that I may become more understandable to you and maybe you can be more understandable to me.
The most common difficulties for people with AS is with social situations. Like having conversations or having a play date. I do not always act appropriately, because I am often unsure of the right way to behave. I want to learn to be more social. It is very hard for me to have conversations about things I am not interested in. It’s not that I don’t care about you, but I am much more comfortable talking about things that are meaningful to me. Please alert me if I am not being appropriate. Also, it is sometimes uncomfortable for me to look someone in the eye. It doesn’t mean I am not paying attention to you if I’m not looking straight at you.
I am very literal and many times it is hard for me to understand things that may have more than one meaning, like saying “He died laughing.” I may think you really meant someone died! It would be helpful to me if you could explain what you mean in another way if I seem not to understand you. Please do not tell me to do things that I shouldn’t because I cannot always tell whether it is the right thing to do. I assume you are being honest and helpful. If you tell me to lay on the floor, I may do it because I think you are telling me something important that I don’t know and I listen to you.
I am also very impulsive. That means I may move around a lot and can blurt things out. I often do not have enough control to filter the things I say, or I can be very direct. I would never intend to hurt anyone’s feelings. If I say something that seems hurtful please explain that to me. If I say something like “I didn’t imagine your house to be small,” all I mean is that in my head I pictured your house to be bigger. I don’t really care the size of anyone’s house.
Sometimes I react to a situation more strongly than you may. Sometimes I get more upset than I should. I know I should be able to control myself more, but sometimes I just can’t.
I’m also forgetful. My mind moves very quickly and sometimes I can’t keep up with it. Sometimes I get lost in my own world and a friendly touch on the shoulder can bring me back.
I am very disorganized. Things like keeping my papers orderly or remembering to hand in homework come easily to most of you. For me it is hard. If you notice I have forgotten something, please tell me.
My brain is not wired like yours so I don’t process information like you do. Because of that, I know that sometimes I may seem different than you. Please know that I still have feelings. I am telling you this because I want to be accepted and included but can sometimes use some help. I am hoping you will not tease me or make fun of me for being different but rather help me to learn to be more social. I want very much to have friends, but don’t always know how to go about that. I have to work very hard to try to fit in.
I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I am not sad that I have Asperger’s. We are all different from one another. I do have some challenges, but I have some great strengths too. I have a really good memory and I’m very creative.
They say Bill Gates has it and Albert Einstein had it, and Marshall Mathers also known as Eminem may have it, so I am in good company. Hopefully one day I can do something that will also change the world.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to me. I hope we can be friends.
If you have a child with learning differences and are looking for services for them, please contact the My Learning Springboard team and we can help you create a customized learning solutions that can accomodate their needs.Written by: Editorial Team, My Learning Springboard, Inc.