Mac's Story   By Mac Dean
My name is Mac and I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in 5th grade. Much of elementary school I spent frustrated and angry at my inability to understand my peers and converse with them. The diagnosis finally gave me a reason for my struggle; it galvanized me to work hard in trying to learn how to imitate and eventually understand the behavior of other people. It also helped when I started playing the “World of Warcraft” video game. When playing this game, I could see how people conversed in text form and was able to take the time to edit my responses without the awkwardness of making eye contact or the pressure to respond quickly. I began to improve socially and soon found I had made some good friends who understood I had difficulty, but thought no less of me. Though I now was able to talk to others, I still found it stressful. Something that has helped is my archery, which has taught me to keep calm and not let emotion get to me. I am currently a sophomore in a charter high school. Many of the negative symptoms that once plagued me have either disappeared from view or been moderated to the point of being inconsequential. I still practice archery, and those few initial friends have stayed with me all this time. I still have some issues, but they are easily mitigated, and my friends know and accept that I prefer to contact them or be contacted through text rather than speech. To anyone struggling to be accepted for who they are, what I have to say is this: It’s not about disguising who you are or taking extreme caution to avoid losing a friend. You must be yourself, while helping others understand. And if people choose to truly accept you, they will stay to become your closest friends.
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