Ruggles/My Turn: My life with autism

Editor’s note: Logan Ruggles, the grandson of Terry and Vanna Ruggles of Greenfield, delivered this speech on autism to an all-school meeting at the Tilton School, a private high school in New Hampshire in April of 2013. Logan, 10, who has a form of autism, researched and wrote this piece with no help from his father, Scott, who teaches at the school. April is National Autism Awareness Month.

Good morning Tilton School. I am here today at the Tilton School Chapel to tell you about autism. What autism is, how it affects people, how it comes to be, and some things about my life with autism.

Autism is a disorder that people are born with that characterizes impaired social interaction and communication. The disorder is permanent and it stays within you. That means autism is not contagious, not like a sickness or disease, because autism is not a disease.

Parents of a child with autism never find out at birth if their child has autism or any other disorder. They will usually find out later on or they may never find out. My parents didn’t find out about my autism until I was 3 1/ 2. It was hard for them to understand about me. About how I spin around a lot and never get dizzy and how I am highly energetic 24/7.

There are two major types of disorders in the Autism Spectrum, Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified as commonly abbreviated as: PDD-NOS. PDD-NOS is the disorder of the autism spectrum that is below the criteria of Asperger Syndrome. Actions of repetitive behavior in the spectrum include stacking or lining up objects or lack of common sense. Those behaviors are the same with me, when I was little, I would take my 50 Matchbox cars and precisely line them up. I also commonly, don’t think. I take off on my own without permission and later on I get disciplined because I’ve been told the same thing a million times!

Most children with autism absolutely hate to participate in events and activities. I’m not one of those children because I like to participate in events like this one right now perhaps! Most parents don’t tell their child they have autism because they won’t understand and will probably go out and tell people, “Hey dude, I have autism! Hey store manager! I have autism!” It wouldn’t be safe for those children to say that to people, especially kids at school who are wretched and mean.

That child could be telling a kid who probably hasn’t taken a good whiff in the mirror lately! The kids could be harassing that poor child. Imagine it! My dad told me I had autism a year ago. I didn’t go off and tell everybody when I went back to school. I only told my trusted friends. In my school, there are a lot of kids who gossip and spread rumors which makes me ballistic! Some of them are my friends which is why I didn’t tell those people. Kids at my school wouldn’t understand autism and would think that people with autism need to get a clue. I will never tell those kids for my sake.

I know a few people at my school with autism that’s worse than mine. Because I have autism, I am able to help those people and understand them. It should be pretty easy to identify someone with autism. Just watch closely of how they behave. Simple. If you identify someone with autism, please help them. Not a lot of people are aware of autism. I only see a few other kids helping people with autism at my school.

We need to spread the awareness of autism. Tell people that April is Autism Awareness Month. Tell your friends and family show your support of autism awareness by wearing blue. It is our job to spread awareness of autism. A small act can make a big difference.

Thank you and please continue to have a good day.

Logan Ruggles is the grandson of Terry and Vanna Ruggles of Greenfield.

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