The day I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, I at first thought of myself as an interesting person with something unique. I had always known there was something different about me. Now I finally knew why I always had the impulse to stem when I was excited, why I had such a hard time communicating appropriately with others, and why so many of my school mates avoided me.

By the time I was diagnosed, I had already learned to deal with this. I had gained a personal conviction that I was just me, and if people couldn't accept me for who I was or why I was just so strange, then that was their problem. Had it not been for my loving mother and father and handful of school mates who did accept me, I probably never would have gained this conviction. I have never taken for granted the value of a father, a mother, or even just one good friend. To this day, many of my comrades in Autism say that I was lucky, that I was wanted.

Autism is a spectrum. It doesn't come in one form, and there isn't one side to it. Its multidimensional, with its upsides and, importantly, its great share of downsides.

Personally, I would not want to be cured. I'm happy with my Autism, but that's nothing more and nothing less than my personal case. Many children and individuals on the lower end of the spectrum have great difficulties. I've heard of them and I've met them. While I recognize the specialness of these children, I understand why their parents might fear for their future. Some of them cannot speak more than ten or twenty words on their own—although they can echo sayings and phrases very well, but without knowing that they mean. They will not respond when spoken to. When touched or exposed the any uncomfortable stimuli, they become very upset. They live in a vacuum, where something inside of them seems to suck them inward. They seem unreachable. These children and families have my support for a cure...

My Autism has given me a unique perspective on the world and the universe around me. Because everything seemed to work differently than I did when growing up, I learned to think differently than many other people. Because my Asperger Syndrome gave me fixations of certain topics—such was spaceships, human anatomy, snakes, or the solar system—I was able to gain an unquenchable love for learning. Because I had to learn to think differently, I've also developed a unique sense of creativity: since I was very young I have loved to write stories, draw pictures and envision characters and worlds who to this day are a big and important part of me.

In the years before I was diagnosed, I was, as my family would put it, “always happy.” I had moments in which I experienced tragedy, of course, such as the day my beloved dog was killed before my very eyes by a car, or the day my beloved Grandpa left this world. But those were only shadows of my real trials to come...

Not long after I was diagnosed, something happened to me. Somewhere along the line of my life I gained a chemical imbalance in my brain and began to suffer chronic depression. I was inconsolable, afraid, and lonesome. For months at a time I would never smile, never laugh. I found myself looking into the mirror and seeing a side of me I'd never seen before: my face was bleak, hopeless, distressed. It grew so bad that I became gravely afraid to see my reflection when I was like this.

Because of my depression, my Autism also began to manifest in ways I had never before experienced. I became very secluded and withdrawn. The only thing I would do is sit on the couch, or squat on the floor with my arms crossed and stare. I found that I often rocked myself in my distress. I even had a psychotic episode in which I was so afraid that I could not speak, not utter a word. It was as if for a brief moment, my vocabulary had been erased.

But somewhere deep down in me was a child that would not let go of joy. I gave into despair many times over, but somewhere there was a light in me that refused to go out! That child...that light won.

Through good medicine, love, and my indestructible will to be happy and not surrender my joy, I'm a happy person again. I have mastered my Autism and depression. Victory is mine.

To all mothers and fathers, children and siblings affected by Autism or Depression, my message is this: don't surrender. Fight for hope, because it will come. The greatest Myth about Autism is that these children cannot love. Everyone has the need to love and to be loved! Fight hard to reach that person in that vacuum, and that Love will manifest...

Author's Bio: 

Loren John Presley is a young author and support group leader who is on the Autistic spectrum. He is the head of a support group in Bakersfield for young people with Asperger Syndrome. Through his adolescance he experienced a devastating depression which he has conquered through medicine and a strong will. His book, The Anastasia Project, tells his emotional and mental journey through depression in a way that gives readers hope and makes them young. He also directs short films that teach social and cognitive skills to children on the Autistic spectrum.