It all started in my ninth grade science class. It was the day after a big chapter exam and my teacher was handing back tests. After all the tests were handed out, I could see that one of my classmates in my group did not do so well on his test. To my horror, a couple of bullies came up to him and started chanting "what, are you autistic or something?". Hearing this, I could feel my blood boil with anger. Especially after knowing many people on the spectrum, to hear the word "autistic" used as an insult just made me angry. Realizing that this was a much bigger problem present in my community, I decided that the best way to eliminate such stigma was to educate my peers. Starting this club in 2017 with my cofounder Lena, this club acts as a way for me to spread awareness to reduce the stigma around ASD. My goals for both the club and this website is to educate the masses about ASD to encourage a more inclusive society and provide comfort for impacted families.
Smrithi Karthikeyan, Founder
Hi! My name is Lena, and I’m the youngest of 3 sisters. My oldest sister has autism. Having a family member with a disability has changed my life in many ways, but I’ve learned so much from her. Before I was born, my sister was trained to talk through speech therapy, with the relentless support of my mom. Now, she is always talking nonstop. Others may find it delightful because she is extremely social, but at home, it can be distracting. Of course, like with everyone, we have our ups and downs, our strengths and weaknesses. Growing up, I would play with her, though sometimes she’d intimidate me.
As I grew older, I started to act more like an older sister to her, though I try as much as I can to treat her like an adult. I accompany her to activities, answer questions if she needs help, and I tend to be the person to interact with her when she needs someone to talk to. She can be very particular, she is very repetitive, and has certain obsessions such as clothes and hair (she loves playing with mine). In addition, my family and I teach her social and financial skills, so she can be more independent. My sister has made me a more patient, respectful, and responsible person. She teaches everyone new things, makes us laugh, and shows us all the ways she can be amazing.