Watch: Growing up with autism was a challenge and an opportunity – Blaine

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

25-year-old Blaine Schembri spoke out about growing up with autism and how he turned the challenge into an opportunity. In an interview with Newsbook.com.mt, Blaine spoke about the challenges he faced and his passions.

Speaking about his childhood, Blaine said that at the time there wasn’t enough awareness on autism. He said that sometimes he would be judged by his peers, primarily because being on the spectrum constituted an “invisible disability”. He explained how he took on the challenge and this helped him to grow and mature. Nowadays, Blaine helps others who might find themselves in difficulty.

The young man who is currently employed at the Office for Disability Issues, explained that parents whose children are on the autism spectrum need to be disciplined and dedicated. He explained how sometimes he would suffer due to sensory overload.

Sensory issues often accompany autism. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association added sensory sensitivities to the symptoms that help diagnose autism. Autism’s sensory issues can involve both hyper-sensitivities and hypo-sensitivities to a wide range of stimuli. Blaine explained that whenever there is a lot of noise, a person affected by autism may either ignore or may find it very difficult to process the information around them.

A person affected by autism may behave in a way that one would not immediately link to sensory sensitivities. A person who struggles to deal with everyday sensory information can experience sensory overload, or information overload. Too much information can cause stress, anxiety, and possibly physical pain. This can result in withdrawal, challenging behaviour or meltdown.

Creativity

Blaine stated that it was a fact that people on the autism spectrum viewed the world differently from those who are not. He explained that many people on the spectrum are very creative.

Video games

Upon entering Blaine’s bedroom, one immediately realizes that he enjoys playing video games. Speaking to this newsroom, Blaine said that he started playing PlayStation games when he was just two years old. He passionately spoke about his love for video games as he explained that as years passed by he bought new equipment and video games.

Blaine was one of the individuals chosen to participate in a project by Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD), entitled “Different is Normal”. Various differently-abled individuals are featured in twelve photos taken by Darrin Zammit Lupi.

Blaine said he was very excited to be among the individuals chosen to feature in this project. He explained that this was an opportunity to shed more light on individuals with autism.

“Different is Normal” for Blaine means that everyone was the same. He explained that one becomes aware of something being different depending on the way one looks at the person. he added that everyone is different. He urged everyone to follow their passion and to not allow anyone from stopping you to achieve your dreams. He highlighted the importance of doing what one loves and enjoys.

What needs to change?

One of the things Blaine would like to see is a reduction in noise pollution especially in chaotic and busy areas. He explained that while he was used to such circumstances, others cannot cope in such environment.

He mentioned the need to design rooms and buildings which create a calming sensory environment.

Video: Miguela Xuereb