My life with autism

My name is Victoria Christina Ramos. I’m 19 years old and I’m a New York City native and returning graduate at Loudoun County High School. I do ordinary kid stuff. I read and write novels. I enjoy the Diary of A Wimpy Kid books. I watch Austin & Ally. I love PAW Patrol, The Loud House, Monster High, and Laura Marano. I also love Beetlejuice the Musical, and the fifth generation of My Little Pony. And I love Miraculous Ladybug. But there’s something else that’s so special about me, I have Autism.


Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that commonly manifests in early childhood, characterized by impaired communication, excessive rigidity, and emotional detachment. 


I was born with Autism and it has been with me ever since. I first realized I had it when I was two years old. I couldn’t talk yet. It made me frustrated and it made me cry a lot. 


Growing up with Autism was hard and came with some complications for me. There were always meltdowns when I didn’t get my way. I would disobey my parents and cry or scream. But Autism made me super smart, too. I was learning to read at a college level when I was in fourth or fifth grade. My mom was shocked. How could her baby girl learn to do that at such a young age? The answer? I don’t know.  


It’s not easy living with Autism in school. I always had tantrums in kindergarten and still have them in high school. I have trouble making friends and even more trouble focusing on what I need to focus on. When my teachers told me celebrities and the PAW Patrol were plainly just a fantasy, it broke me. I hated going to school and pretended to be sick just to get away from mean teachers. Outside of school life was even tougher. I hated going places where my mom wanted me to go or hated doing my homework when I first lived up North. I had therapists there who were not nice with me and that led to one of my horrific, bad episodes. But I’ve been getting better.


There are good and bad things about my Autism. One of the bad things is having meltdowns. The main reason why I have meltdowns is that my mind is so intensely focused on something I want or need that it cannot tolerate either delay, denial, or refusal. Meltdowns are really painful and embarrassing. They make me feel like a weakling. 


The good part is I am really smart. For example, I taught everyone in my other high school the Hand Jive from Grease LIVE! just by watching Vanessa Hudgens, Keke Palmer, and Julianne Hough on YouTube. Another good thing is I get to take breaks whenever I’m stressed or upset. Chocolate treats, like Hershey’s and Lindt, help me too. And best of all, I’m going to get a service pup, Zara.


Zara is a Goldendoodle pup, who is the youngest daughter of Jolene and Renegade and the younger sister of Una, Vega, Wally, Xena, and Yaeger, and she is going to help me with my meltdowns and tantrums. Her job is to accompany me to decrease anxiety during medical or dental visits, school activities, shopping and travel. Some autism service pups like Zara are trained to recognize and gently interrupt self-harming behaviors or help de-escalate an emotional meltdown. For instance, she might respond to signs of anxiety or agitation with a calming action such as leaning against me or gently laying across my lap. She is going to help me become the best me I can be.


I continue to struggle with my problems, but with support, reading, writing, friendship, and a bit of love, I’m getting a whole lot better. There are many ways besides Autism that students feel they don’t fit in. Maybe you have experience with them, but don’t let anyone tell you who you are. You already know who you are. You are amazing, kind, and brilliant.