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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 July, 2003, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
'Why my autism is a gift'
Luke Jackson
Luke has written books about Asperger's syndrome
Luke Jackson has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. While many consider it a disability, Luke explains why he believes being different is a gift.

Hi, I'm Luke Jackson and I'm 14 years old. I am a completely "normal" kid, apart from the fact that I have Asperger's syndrome (AS), a "mild" form of Autism.

I was born with it, and it may have come from another family member (here I tend to look meaningfully at Mum) but I don't want to get into a discussion of genes and causes at the moment.

One unusual thing about me is that I have what some people would call a disability - but I call a gift - Asperger's Syndrome
Quote from Freaks, Geeks and Asperger's Syndrome - my book!
I am often asked what it's like living with AS. This is kind of a difficult question about something that you've had all your life.

It's like asking somebody what it's like to be human (unless they aren't human, in which case they probably wouldn't answer, at least not in any human language).

You don't know, because you've been like it all your life.

What is normal?

Before you all walk off dejectedly, what I can tell you is what it feels like to live my life.

I don't know what "normal" is, but I know that people like me are the minority, not the majority. So that, in our society, is what constitutes "abnormal" (rather insulting I would say!).

The Jackson family
Jacqui Jackson has seven children - all four boys have a form of autism
Until I was about nine years old, I thought everybody else was weird. Maybe I was right!

Ever since I was - well, in fact, ever since I can remember - I've known that I was in someway different to everybody else.

In primary school, when everyone was playing "cops and robbers" and "soldiers", I always wanted to sit on the wall and read, or scrutinize a blade of grass or spin around in circles.

In secondary school, while everyone is standing around and performing their teenage rituals (what they are all about I really do not know!), I go to the computer room or the library and enjoy time alone or with the greatest love of my life - computers.

Bullying

Being different may not be a problem for me, or other kids like me, but it sure seems to cause problems for "normal" (ha!) kids. The result... bullying!

I think there is some amount of bullying going on at all times, in schools everywhere.

Some have it worse than others, but all have it. I definitely had it, and "it" was very painful at times.

Always remember that "different is cool!"
A lot of teachers and adults think it is "part of growing up", but I have written my books, talked at conferences and opened my life up on television just to let everyone know that people with autism in any shape or form are just as entitled to be themselves as anyone else in the world.

If others would take time to stop and get to know us then they would see that we have a lot to offer.

Yes, we may get angry and frustrated at the world (particularly our parents!), but that is a natural reaction to feeling like an outsider all of our lives and being misunderstood.

All in all, to all AS people and everyone reading this, always remember that "different is cool!"


Luke's film, My Family And Autism, was broadcast on BBC Two on Wednesday, 30 July, at 21:00 BST.

His book, Freaks, Geeks and Asperger's Syndrome, is published by Jessica Kingsley.




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