Fitting in at school wasn’t easy for me until around high school. I had a really hard time with all of the social niceties when I was in school. I ended up over-sharing with a lot of kids at school and they had a hard time getting used to me. I also had a difficult time when it came to not talking endlessly about stuff that I found interesting. It really created a situation where I didn’t have a lot of friends and almost everyone that I knew really liked to make fun of me.
One of the great things about high school and college is that it felt like everyone really grew up. Then again, it also probably just felt like that because I had changed and I had learned not to bother other people.
One of the things that have gotten better in my lifetime is that there is a lot more awareness about autism these days. I’m really young, I know, but the world changes really fast these days, and it looks like it is changing for the better. People barely even used to know about autism when I was a kid, or that’s how it seems. Or they thought that everyone who had autism was just like the brother in Rain Man. It’s getting easier and easier for those of us who are very mild on the spectrum and who do not have the savant syndrome that has characterized the portrayals of a lot of people on the spectrum.
People are more accepting of me, so that has definitely helped. However, I think I’m better at understanding them, and I know that this has helped a lot. I also think that this is one of the reasons why I decided to get into acting in the first place. I really wanted to learn how and why people do the things that they do, and I think that this is the sort of thing that has given me some ability when it comes to acting.
Maybe this would have been better if I had had some more intuitive understanding of why people do what they do. However, I really do think that I had an advantage as an autistic person who tends to understand how people behave in a more academic manner. Lots of actors have to go back and learn how to understand people in this manner as well. The thing is, I had to do that anyway. There are days in which I think that this has actually helped me. I’ve been trying to understand people intellectually for a long time, and some people in my acting classes only just started at eighteen. I’ve been trying to fake neuro-typical facial expressions for a long time as well. Basically, as an autistic person, I’ve been in acting school for so long that when I actually entered the real thing, it actually made everything a lot easier.