I Was Happiest Before Age 8
I was born in 1985 at 6:27am. My sign is Capricorn. I'm cautious, confident and ambitious. My first pet was a golden retriever. I loved to snuggle with Goldie! I also had a cat named Sheba and ferrets. I have dimples and was happy at my pre-school. My first friends were Lisha and Brianna. My favorite school was School at Rose Valley, a private progressive school for all kids. I like structure – I enjoy patterns! I like to draw in many media. I liked wood shop with Big Mike, circle time with Dita, occupational therapy with Wilma and my chore, carrying the milk cartons from the cafeteria.
The Awful Years and My First Psychiatric Hospitalization
The next years I attended several schools. I have Autism. I didn't have dimples anymore. At age 9, I had my first psychiatric hospitalization. Then I wound up at a residential school that I didn’t like. I had an aid for the whole day. When I got angry, they restrained me. I didn’t have any friends. I lost many friends from then on.
A Bright Spot, My Bat Mitzvah
At age 14, I had a coming of age ceremony, my Bat Mitzvah. All of my cousins had Bar or Bat Mitzvahs. I had a lot of ideas about what I wanted. My grandmother made me an atara with my name embroidered on it. I created a self portrait holding the Torah that was the cover for my invitations. Rabbi Sue Greenberg taught me to read from the Torah. I remember candy and dancing and my family was there.
Bossy Boots Learns What to Do
I finally went to Camphill Special School Beaver Run. That’s when I discovered my love for the zodiac. I had the same teacher and classmates for 6 years and I made many friends. We did horseback riding, hiking, art, music, gardening and drama. I wasn’t restrained there. When I was angry, my teacher Becky would call me “bossy boots” and say: “You know what to do!” and I would remove myself to the timeout room and come back when I was ready. After living at Beaver Run for a year and a half, I lived at home again and continued at Beaver Run as a day student until I graduated at age 18.
More School and Volunteering
Until 21, I went to my local high school where I studied math and language arts. Sitting still for the main lesson was still hard and my mind daydreamed. I liked playing on the soccer team. My hobbies were gardening, painting and karate. I attended a horticultural program at Fellowship Farm too. Since graduating, I have a black belt in karate. Karate gives me energy. I like moving around. I like all sports and swam at the YMCA. I enjoy video games, doing yoga and volunteering with my mom. We teach music to preschoolers. I play the ukulele and sing and drum on the Djembe. I also visit nursing homes with my black Lab, Duff.
A New House Becomes My Home
Now that I am an adult, my family started a non-profit that purchased a large house we fixed up. I have two extra rooms that I want to share with friends who needs a home to rent. My parents live in an apartment over the garage. I took out an ad to find the right young adults.
New JCHAI Friends and Sharing My Story
I learned about JCHAI Transitions at an Open House. JCHAI has socials with other young adults. I did Dancing Like the Starz with Andi and attended a play, Matchmaker. I also made Challah and cookies. My new JCHAI friends are Trevor, Matt, Alex, Jordan, Julia and Stephanie. They all work at paying jobs. Someday, I would like to work in a bakery or a garden center, or in library or maybe live on a ranch with lots of animals like chickens and angora rabbits. For now, I love to share my story and am going to tell it at two JCHAI workshops about living as a young adult with Autism.