“God, bless me, my autism and my ADHD” – Akim, 10
“This is not a playground, please teach your child some discipline.” A stranger said to my mother and walked away before my mom Joan could explain that I have autism. With tears in her eyes, my mom left with me in hand, without completing her shopping.
My name is Joachim Isaac, lovingly known as ‘Akim’, and this is my story.
I spoke my first word after 3 years old, and soon after was diagnosed with autism. Growing up, my parents constantly worried about me because I was slower than others, and had trouble following instructions. You could ask me to stand in a line, and I would jump, and flap my arms as though I’m flying! The other kids would laugh when I randomly ran around the classroom. My family soon learnt that I also had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
At 4 years old, my mom brought me to my first Special Olympics Young Athletes session. I was SO excited that I could not stop running, jumping, tripping, falling all around. I was in love with the throwing and catching exercises. Finally! Something I was good at!
My favourite activity of the day was the morning obstacle course run in the field. I could quickly run over all the obstacles. It made me so happy!
I also love meeting and greeting people, so whenever I see a new face, I push them and jump on them out of excitement. I met so many people at my swimming class too and just enjoyed splashing water on them. My teachers sometimes get tired of trying to teach me, but my parents believed in me and always encouraged me, letting me continue learning at my own pace.
Last year, I swam an entire lap all by myself. I am truly a water baby. Today, I also know how to do the breaststroke and front crawl. I never thought I would be able to swim so well, but as they say, never give up!
Every night before sleeping, I ask God to bless me, my autism and ADHD. I truly believe that the universe listens to me and my family’s prayers. As long as we have faith, fate will always find a way for everyone and all our unique talents.
Today, besides swimming I also love painting, sketching and singing. I love expressing my thoughts and emotions in pictures and songs. Today I know that life is filled with colours for me to explore and create, and to achieve my own milestones, in my own time.
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