Back to the Future*
For the past two years, I’ve been working as a mentor for young people on the spectrum. Just this month, I started at a nearby High School, a prospect which frankly terrified me at first, because let’s face it, teenagers can be scary! (I actually tried a Diploma of Education back in 2012, where my attempts at teaching Year 9s went about as smoothly as trying to shave with a can opener)
But the one thing that struck me, and which continues the longer I work in this field, is that I keep meeting teens who remind me uncannily of myself at their age. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve had a student express to me the exact same fears I had in high school, or even the same interests, viewpoints, or experiences. It’s almost like encountering my teenage past self.
When I first got involved with autism advocacy back in early 2014, one of my first impressions was how much it would have helped me if I’d had this kind of support when I was a freshly diagnosed teenager. But as a wise old baboon once taught me, you can’t change the past; you can either run from it, or learn from it.
The programs I work with today may not have been available for me when I was in school, but through the power of hindsight, I now have the chance to make sure that these younger versions of myself I keep meeting get the support they need.
*DISCLAIMER: Once again, I plead poverty in the face of plagiarism that would make the guys behind Snakes on a Train and Transmorphers blush. To cover my (firm and sexy) arse, I hereby note that Back to the Future is the property of Universal Pictures.