Ed. Note: Because of her young age, Miranda has chosen not to disclose her full name.
“I like to think that orchids are like people on the spectrum: they possess beauty, but it’s misunderstood because it’s different.” – Miranda
In Miranda’s own words…
French class was my class. It was what I looked forward to every day and I was on the top of my class. I thank Asperger’s for that; my excellent memory definitely has helped me. I knew that many of my classmates were cruel, but absolutely nothing could bring me down as long as I was in that classroom, or so I thought.
Madame was outside conducting oral exams and those of us not taking our orals waited and studied inside the classroom until it was our turn. I was practicing with my oral partner when I heard my name from behind.
“Hey, Miranda, you used to like *Nate, didn’t you?” If I had been drinking water, I would’ve choked. This was not something that I wanted to discuss. The girl who’d spoken was *Corry, I’d never liked her that much, she emitted a vibe that she wasn’t very nice.
“Excuse me?” I squeaked while I turned around to face her. The whole class tuned in to listen.
“Well, that’s what I heard.” She had a smug look on her face as if she was pleased that I was beginning to show signs of distress. She had thrust me back to a time of misunderstandings and bullying.
When I was in fifth grade, a rumor spread that I liked Nate because I used to look out the window in Language Arts when the teacher would talk about things I already knew. Nate just happened to be sitting between the window and me. Why would anyone think that I like him? I don’t know. He made a lizard jump on me, he asked for teachers to call on me, and he and this other boy engaged in juvenile activities like pulling down the other’s pants in class. Disgusting. I’d never be mean enough to say these things to another classmate so I just refuted the rumor with the window story.
“That was just a rumor many years ago; I don’t know where a new student like you would’ve heard it. It’s just like I told everyone at the time, I was just looking out the window because the teacher was extremely boring. I was distracted, I thought it was my ADD and he thought I was staring at him…” My voice trailed off as I thought about what else to say. I hadn’t been told the details of my diagnosis when the rumor spread, but I did want to correct the ADD part of my statement.
“Don’t worry about it, I had ADD too.” *Dan spoke up.
“But, I never had ADD . . . I have something else . . .” All eyes were on me. I wasn’t going to tell a whole classroom of teenagers that I was an Aspie. I don’t hate it, being on the autism spectrum I mean. It does present challenges, but overall Asperger’s is not the terrible thing that so many think it is. It’s not something I’m ashamed of; I just couldn’t count on a bunch of eighth graders to understand. The room was silent until once again Dan spoke up.
“It’s probably a part of it.” Luckily for me, Madame entered the classroom and the talking stopped.
I don’t like keeping Asperger’s a secret because it makes me feel like I’m ashamed of it, that it’s a bad thing when it’s not. Unfortunately, it had to be a secret because I knew from personal experience that the majority of my classmates wouldn’t understand. They wouldn’t see that the autism spectrum is a spectrum, so I thought I had to hide it. I’ve left that school and I no longer feel that I have to keep it a secret. I can once again be proud to be an Aspie.