By Trevor Pacelli
Everybody is required to learn about history as they go through elementary school, middle school, and high school. They learn about the history of various countries around the world and why it is relevant to us today. They also learn about America's history and all of the important events and people that formed our country. Many of many of the people I grew up with seemed to grasp and understand the subjects we were learning, including the political issues concerning the government today. But as for me, I never paid any attention to history subjects, and today I can hardly recall anything I learned. I do remember my U.S. history classes talking about the Mayflower, the Westward movement, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, America's presidents, World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and many other subjects; but the details are as foggy to me now as they were at the time I was taught them.
I understand why it is important to know about our country's history: so that we realize how we got here and what to do with the future of our country. But when I was younger, I did not grasp it nor care to learn. I think back to the other kids in my class, and they all picked up on the subject and knew why it was relevant, while I just sat there completely lost. Why was this so?
Having autism meant that I was always in my own individual world, absorbed in my own thoughts and uninterested in reality. This was especially so when I was much younger, when the thing that I was most concerned about was watching SpongeBob Squarepants at 8:00 that night. Even as a teenager I had no desire to know who John Hancock was or what the Civil Rights Movement was all about. This is a very common thing for anyone growing up on the spectrum: having little to no response to terms of reality.
This is still true to me today. I virtually never follow the news, and even when I do I am not responsive to it. I feel like I have to force myself to read a news article in order to feel educated about what's happening in the world, yet many of the articles on breaking news are written in a style that I am unable to relate to because of the subject matter. The only things that happen in the media that I can actually fully grasp are things related to movies. This is something that I plan to change about myself.
I wish that I paid attention in school when I was growing up, and I wish that I actually cared about what I was being taught. But gladly, I have improved on that now with the college courses I'm taking. As far as knowing about U.S. history, I still wish I could return to what I was instructed in the past so I could know my country better. In studying film this past year, I learned that every movie reflects the time that it was made; which means that studying film means knowing what was happening in America from the 1920s up until now. I have heard about several events in America's history during this time that I have a little knowledge about, such as World War II, the coming of television, the Vietnam War, the Watergate Scandal, and the 911 terrorist attacks. But I wish to learn more and become more of an integrated member of society, and not always secluded in my own world. So I have already made plans to change that: I will be taking a course in the fall about German media in the 1940s.
Inspiration for Life with Autism
This blog has a variety of articles about people living life with autism, and topics and ideas that can help in the journey. Guest bloggers are welcome. Inspired by Trevor, a young adult film critic, photographer and college graduate on the autism spectrum.