My name is Alexandra Karsesnick, I am 22 years old, and I am currently attending a community college in Pittsburgh, Pa. I am majoring in Education Paraprofessional (Teacher's Aide). The reason I chose this field is because I want to work and make a difference in helping someone who is struggling with autism. I am one of those people who is on the autism spectrum. Here is my story before I became the person I am today:
I was just your average toddler that learned how to walk and how to talk. That was me then when I learned how to say momma and dada. After the vaccination, it came to a halt, in other words I stopped talking, never made any eye contact to anyone. If I want something, I yell and scream until I get what I want. My parents did not know what was wrong with me, they thought I was spoiled by them and my three older sisters, which I was. I started talking when I was 3 or 4 and I was never toilet trained until I was five or six. From there, my dad knew that there is something wrong with me, but my mom did not want to believe it. My kindergarten teacher suggests that they should take me to Children’s Hospital to be tested to see what was wrong with me. The doctor diagnose me Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), a form of autism, at the age of six. The doctor explained the definition of the disorder to my parents but they did not tell them about early intervention or anything. My parents did not believe in therapy that would help me because they re-teach you how to be a proper parent to your child with autism. If I was diagnose with severe autism, then therapy would be necessary. In spite of my diagnose with autism, my parents continued raising me and they never treated me differently. The only therapy I had from the, is love.
In order to communicate with others, I repeat lines from an actual tv show or a film so I could communicate with everyone, which is called scripted communication.
Throughout the years in school, I did not have many friends. The only friends I have are my parents who I trust very much. When I was in 5th grade, I came to Chartiers Valley and I was the victim of bullying due to my disorder. I really did not like going to school at all when I was a child. I was scared of getting made fun of and I've been called awful names because of different from them. It was very hard for me and heart breaking for my mother. After that ordeal, I moved back to Fort Cherry from 7th to 10th grade. Like I said, I did not have many friends there. Being a teenager and autistic is a very difficult mix to deal with. I was not even happy with myself because I keep thinking that my peers doubted me because I’m autistic and I’m not in their group of friends. I also felt that I’ve been taking advantage by them due to my communication difficulty. Nowadays, I see teenage girls talk about what they did over the weekends, like going to the movies, hanging out with friends at the mall, etc. I think it makes me sad and it’s also depressing because I was isolated by everybody so they won’t take advantage of me and my parents worries about me of who I'm hanging out with and all. Every day I wish that I could snap my fingers and make autism go away from my life and be normal like everyone else, but unfortunately I can’t do that. Autism is who I am for the rest of my life.
After 10th grade, I went to live with my parents. I did not want to go back to Chartiers Valley because I did not want to be bullied again. So my parents put me in Cyber School and it only lasted 6 months. I dropped out when I was 17 years old and I did not go to school at all for a year and a half. I did look for work, but it’s hard to find work without a high school diploma. I decided at the age of 19, I’m going back to school and get it over with. At the age of 21, I finally receive my high school diploma with excellent pride that I earned. After graduation, I took a six month break from school. All I did was hang out with my friends and family and did some babysitting.
I am currently a student at Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) to work on my Associate's Degree to become a Teacher's Aide. My goal to become a paraprofessional is to work and make a difference in helping students who is on the Autism Spectrum in middle school and/or high school level. I just want them to see me as an individual with autism, if I can do it and be successful, they can too.
In order for me to continue my journey as an adult with autism, I want to spread awareness to anyone who is interested in working with someone with autism. Also, not only I want to help individuals with autism, I want to help parents who has a child with autism and tell them you are not alone. I have a very strong support system from my family, close friends, and teachers that I know in school. Without them, I wouldn't become the person I am today.
I hope you enjoy my story. Thank you!
~ Alexandra Karsesnick