Autism & I

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Hazim & mama – Autism Fun Run 2014

Assalammuaikum and good morning to all. My name is Khairul Hazim bin Zainudin. I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (Autism Spectrum) when I was 6 years old. Initially I went to a regular school. Despite being able to read and write, I was bullied in class, as I did not know how to socialise. So my mama Hidayati Basri placed me in another school, which had a special education programme.

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But my mama realised it was a mistake. Being in a class with other special needs children who had their respective issues, my condition worsened because I copied bad behaviour and didn’t learn much. Mama pulled me out and I returned to my previous mainstream school. But in the absence of trained teachers, I could not cope with the demands of a school.

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My parents relocated the family to Putrajaya as they hope I would enjoy the best education in the government’s administrative centre. But in time my parents learnt it was not to be.

So when my parents learnt about the National Autism Society of Malaysia’s Inclusive Education programme, my mama registered me there when I was 11 years old. I underwent intensive therapy over six months to augment my skills in writing, copying from the board, counting and reading, and sharpen my communication and social skills.

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Later on I was selected to participate in the pilot project in the mainstream school, SK (1) Jalan Batu, Kuala Lumpur. A teacher aide from Nasom had been assigned to assist me and my friends from Nasom during and after school. It was compulsory for those being mainstreamed to attend Nasom After School Support programme in which teacher aide are present as the students complete their homework. My parents spent a big sum of money every month for my therapies.

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I want to share with all of you – What Does Aspergers Feel Like?

Aspergers is a unique condition due to the fact that no two people who have Aspergers are the same; there are very few unifying symptoms. What one Aspie experiences will not be felt by another, and vice versa.

How Aspergers feels to me. To me, Aspergers feels:

Awkward – this is pretty much the default, base line feeling of Aspergers. It always seems like everyone else understands what’s going on except me. I’m doing my best to keep up, but I seem to do everything the wrong way. And everyone’s looking at me because of it.

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Hazim – menang pertandingan melukis 2

Stressful – I’m often very aware of the fact that I’m not quite with it, that I’m a puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit into its space. I want to be able to follow along, to get with the beat, to approach some sort of normalcy. But it’s not easy. It takes effort. And when that effort fails, I get stressed that I’ll never be what I want to be.

Carefree – Then again, Aspergers gives me the ability to be blissfully ignorant of the annoyance I’m causing other people in some situations. As long as I’m feeling good and having fun, I can completely block out everyone and not even feel uneasy being the weirdest person in the room. It’s these times when Aspergers becomes – dare I say it – fun!

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Khairul Hazim – Last day SPM 2013

Powerful – Aspergers gives me the ability to do things that most neurotypical people are not capable of. I’m able to think through most situations rationally, setting aside any emotions I may have and avoiding the biases that come with them. I’m able to process information faster than most people, which gives me the illusion of looking smarter – when in reality, my brain is simply more efficient at learning. I also have the ability to burden myself with painful situations and push through without falling apart mentally.

Weak – On the other hand, sometimes the smallest annoyance can seem like the biggest pain I could ever experience. A single voice in TV advertisement can upset me and becomes an immediate emergency. I can’t cope with simple everyday situations that almost everybody else shrugs their shoulders at and moves on. I end up melting down over the smallest thing that doesn’t go my way.

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Hazim & Family

Alone – I haven’t made any new friends since I finished my SPM 2013. I don’t know how. The sad truth is this: I really DO want friends. People with Aspergers and autism as well, may seem antisocial, but it’s not because we don’t want to be social. It’s because we have no clue on how to be social, so we’d rather just avoid the situation instead of failing miserably.

Loved – I can be such a pain to deal with, I know for sure that the people in my life truly do love me and care about me. Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother putting themselves through the agony to be connected to me. It’s not an easy thing to love an Aspie, or even to be good friends with one. There’s a lot of take and sometimes not that much give. But when someone gets to know me and understands that there’s a person inside who wants to care about people, something magical happens… they actually like me.

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Khairul Hazim & friend at Autism Fun Run 2014

Passionate – The things I’m interested in, I jump in full force. I love broadcasting and I want to know everything about it. I’m competitive, high spirited, I love knowing things, and I love being right. There’s no better feeling than being completely engrossed in a subject to the point where every new detail is a gift.

Bored – The things I’m not interested in, I couldn’t give less of the square root about it. God help you if you want to have a conversation with me about something that bores me, because I’ll tune out faster than you even realize it and two days later I’ll insist that the conversation never happened. And to me, it didn’t… because I was off in my imagination doing something else that I care infinitely more about than your interest.

And lastly…

To me, Aspergers feels like life. This is my life, and these are the difficulties that come with it. Everyone has things they deal with in their life, whether you are on the spectrum or neurotypical or whatever you want to call yourself. We learn to live the way we are.

My Aspergers doesn’t make me any less or any more human than anybody else. It just makes me who I am.

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