Sometimes life can be a little complicated. When a person sees the world from a completely different angle than most people, though, those complications can be amped up.
Taylor Moore, a junior at Hurricane High School, has some experience with this. She has lived with her 13-year-old autistic stepbrother, Alex Brown, for the past five years. She said he views the world differently than other people.
Although Brown's autism does not define him, it does pose some challenges as far as everyday life is concerned. He cannot be left home alone. Also, activities that most high school students do not even think about -- like pouring a bowl of cereal, for instance -- are not always simple operations for him.
Moore said that often with Brown, he does not know the right way to communicate his thoughts and needs to others, so he lashes out in different ways. If people cannot express themselves, they can get frustrated. When Brown cannot, he sometimes resorts to anger.
"I have been hit and scratched before," Moore said. "Sometimes he hurts himself as well. When he can't find the words to say, it can be extremely frustrating for him."
She dismissed the perception that people with autism are not as smart as other people. On the contrary, people with autism can be intensely bright, sometimes more so than regular people. She described many people with autism as "really smart, but in their own way."
Moore noted that like many autistic people, her brother often has quirky obsessions and eating habits. For example, he used to love to eat peanut butter crackers with ketchup or bread that was nearly burnt. Although most people may not understand that, it was what he wanted to eat and what he enjoyed at the time. Currently, his passions are Pokémon and Transformers.
Frequently, people do not know how to deal with those with autism. Moore said, "Autism is like a completely different culture."
Though they may not perform activities the same way most people do, autistic people are still people. They may have different perceptions, tendencies and practices, but that does not make them bad or stupid. It just makes them unique.
Although some people may not know how to appropriately interact with an autistic person, they can always put time and energy into learning how. If they do approach and get to know autistic people, they may learn more than they realize.