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Students promote appreciation to dissolve stigma around autism

FRI.| 04-30-21 | FEATURES

     For many years, there has been a stigma surrounding people with mental conditions, but as people have become more educated about the nature of these disorders the stigma has begun to disappear and people have been thinking more positively about these conditions. This stigma has begun to dissolve into an appreciation and celebration about the way different minds work. 

     Many students at Rose are neuroatypical or neurodivergent. This means that their brains work in different ways than what is deemed normal. Although many people may see these types of disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Dyslexia, Anxiety and many others, as burdens, many are beginning to see the positive aspects. Instead of looking at these people as diseased or disordered, they simply have a different way of thinking. There are many students at Rose who are neuroatypical, including sophomore Parker Ford who was diagnosed with autism when he was only two years old. 

     “Sometimes I act immaturely or have outbursts and may have trouble recognizing emotions,” Ford said. “I have been this way for as long as I can remember.”

     Autism is characterized as a developmental disability that can sometimes impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships and self-regulation. Although Autism can impact a person’s social skills, people who are autistic often are extremely intelligent. A lot of times, people with Autism can memorize and learn information very quickly and have heightened logical thinking, reasoning skills and also being very precise and detail-oriented. 

     “I feel that Autism's pros actually outweigh its cons, especially if you are high functioning like me,” Ford said. “Autism can make you more intelligent, give you a great imagination and more.”

     It is important to focus on the positive aspects of these disorders and conditions in order to work towards breaking the degrading stigma around


Graphic by Murphy Fisher

mental disorders. Another student at Rose Junior Safiyyah Nwaqas, suffers from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) which severely affects her mood. 

     “Around my menstrual cycle it's not just normal emotional turbulence, it's really very extreme,” Nwaqas said. “I would have extreme hormone problems and would be extraordinarily depressed for like a week, and then two weeks later, I would feel like a completely different person.”

     Before seeking out a doctor’s help, Nwaqas would experience extreme fluctuations in her emotions every month coinciding with her menstrual cycle. She has since been able to balance out her emotions and hormonal cycles with the use of medications provided to her by her pediatrician. This helps to elevate her baseline emotional field and makes the lows not as extreme and her normal slightly elevated. This helps her cope with her emotional turmoil and still keep up with her school work and social life, although she admits that she still struggles at times. 

     “It is exhausting,” Nwaqas said. “I go home and I have to take a nap and just recharge all the time.”

     In order to balance her PMDD, her social and school life, it takes a lot of her energy. PMDD causes her to be perpetually exhausted which puts strain on her family and school life. This hormonal disorder often causes her to be sleepy in the daytime and can result in her falling asleep in class. This makes it difficult to pay attention and succeed in her classes. It is a continual struggle for her to balance her work. Although this disorder makes many things difficult for her, there is a surprisingly positive aspect to it. 

     “I think I am a naturally empathetic person, but struggling with my disorder has taken it to another level,” Nwaqas said. “I am able to understand a lot of different perspectives and empathize with a lot of people who also have a mental illness.”

     Although both Ford and Nwaqas suffer from these conditions and the negative effects they bring, it is important to notice the positives. People who are neuroatypical have a different outlook and perspective of the world that neurotypical people will never understand. These different types of minds come together to make our world be the neurodiverse place that it is and these differences are starting to be celebrated.

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