So here he is, in his own words:
1 May 2017
Hi, my name is Ethan Anav. I am sixteen years old and I go to Piedmont Hills High School. All my life, I’ve found it difficult to communicate with people. At this age-- when pimples are on your face and you have hair on places other than your head, if you know what I mean-- I have a tendency to want to distance myself from others. Well, that’s what people tell me, but on this multi-colored campus within the big, multi-colored city of San Jose, I don’t really notice that I’m distancing myself.
Lunch time, a time when the campus is bustling with activity, is a time to hang out with friends. Unfortunately, I don’t really have the guts to start a conversation-- unless I’m told to. I usually just say “Hi” to people and then stay quiet. It’s like I don’t recognize them; that’s a little odd. When I do talk to people, I will ask them if they would like to hang out with me sometime. I will say, “Hey, would you like to come over sometime this weekend?”
A friend of mine, Sean, who’s the same age as me, will say, “Yeah, I would like to.”
Either that or, “Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t think I’ll be able to.”
If there’s no one (that I know of) at the maroon table I sit at in the shade, I start to feel lonely. I eat my crunchy, nutty, fruity peanut butter and jelly sandwich with no one watching me. That’s when I think I’m not going to be around people. And that’s sad. Even though I have many friends and family members. Have I been abandoned? Do my friends not like me any more? No, that’s not true. That’s impossible.
When I’m in class, I will either sit up straight and pay attention to what my teacher is saying or I slant in my chair, bored to death and not doing anything that uses my time wisely. When we participate in group projects, I hope to find a group that best suits my needs. Let’s say in Drama, where the class is intended to decorate the room of G-1 to celebrate theater with posters and props from past Drama Department productions. I try to find a partner, but I can’t. So I raise my hand, and my teacher, Ms. Woods finds a partner for me. She says calmly, “Ethan, why don’t you work with (classmate’s name).”
I would know who this person is, but I’m not sure if he or she is right for me. Then, all of a sudden, I ask myself, “Why am I like this?”
I try to stay calm when things get overwhelming. You see, I’ve been diagnosed with this thing called Autism. I was very little back then; around two, I believe. This disorder… it makes me view the world differently, but not all different. It is why I have difficult times in my life. And typically, it’s not too easy living with Autism.
After school, I’m at home, a calm, tranquil place to live in. I have homework and I’m slightly stressed. It is Spring Break, a time for fun and relaxation. I mean, I’m supposed to do work on vacation. Is that even necessary? Am I supposed to put my priorities for staying up to speed in school BEFORE I take a break and have fun?!
I go to do homework on my smooth, white desk. There is rarely any sound except for my pen or pencil moving along the lined paper that I use. Over time, I manage to finish my Spanish and math, with only my English left to do. For this assignment, my teacher is telling me to write an essay, which I’m okay with but I know it will not be easy. I don’t know what to jot down. My thoughts are scrambled like eggs. I try to think about what I’m supposed to write, but I just can’t. My eyes start to water. Dropping my pen, I rush upstairs to my mom, tell her about my situation, and then cry, “I’m not good at this!”
She puts her hand on my shoulder and says, “Oh, Ethan. You’re good at lots of things. Like math, you’re good at that. You’re also good with building Legos; things with instructions. And you have a good memory. You remind me of things that I forgot to do and remember the dates of when certain movies came out. But the stuff you don’t think you’re good at, you can improve on it. It’s just who you are.”
She’s right. I am good at some things. I calm down, start to smile, and get back to work, with my mom helping me. We come up with ideas for the topic and I go on from there.
In the end, I accept the fact that I’m not better than everyone, but not everyone is better than me. Furthermore, I see myself as other people see me: a young man who has difficulties with life as I know it. This isn’t about how we do on the work we’re assigned, it’s about how we act in life. I am different because we are all different, no matter if we do the same things.