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In Their Own Words: Neurodivergent Individuals at UAM

Britney Vice
Kevin Gardner and Daoneil Escalera explaining their opinion on how autistic people are treated both in school and in society, during the Autism Acceptance Month celebration on April 19, 2024.

Autism is a neurodivergent condition that affects 1 in every 36 children and around 1% of the world’s population. Within today’s society autistic people often face discrimination due to their social inability. In order to get the most accurate answers regarding discrimination against autistic people. Interviews between Kevin Gardner, Daoneil Escalera, Elijah Ramirez and Colin Ozeki, a teacher at UAM, were conducted. All individuals with diagnosed autism.

All of the interviewees were clearly eager to share their own opinions and thoughts on the topic of discrimination against autistic people, Kevin Gardner states that he believes that the majority of autistic people are not accepted into many activities. “I don’t feel like we’re accepted into society either or school. It feels as if we are being avoided.”

Daoneil Escalera on the other hand had a conflicting opinion that slightly opposed Kevin’s opinion on how autistic people are treated. Daniel believed that autistic people simply need the confidence if they wished to be treated equally. “I think autistic people in this school are treated fairly well. All it takes is the confidence to actually get out of your shell to make friends”.

Elijah Ramirez, offering his opinion on the treatment of autistic students at UAM. (Britney Vice)

Elijah Ramirez had a more positive outlook on the topic contrasting the previous interviewees answers. Elijah Ramirez fully believes that autistic people both within school and society are treated equally. “I think autistic people within society are treated fairly well. Sure there might be little comments but it’s just the way it is for anyone.”

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The last interviewee was Mr. Ozeki, a teacher here at UAM. A previous article was written about him at the beginning of the year covering who he is as he is a new teacher here at UAM.  Mr. Ozeki was asked questions that focused on his experience as an employed adult with autism. Similarly to the other interviewee’s, Mr. Ozeki seemed eager to convey his thoughts. Mr. Ozeki’s unique perspective was certain to give valuable insight.

Mr. Ozeki, sharing his thoughts on discrimination of autistic people.

Mr. Ozeki explained how discrimination against autism isn’t always blatant, it’s often due to a lack of understanding. People get frustrated with him for things he can’t control due to misunderstanding. Mr. Ozeki shares, “People say, Oh, I would have never guessed you’re autistic, which is a very well intentioned thing to say, but it’s actually very highly insulting. Because autism isn’t always visible. And by saying, like, I would have never guessed, you’re autistic, that’s implying two things. One, that that’s somehow a good thing. And two, it’s downplaying the many invisible struggles that people with autism have.”


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About the Contributor
Elias Ortiz
Elias Ortiz is a UAM High School sophomore who is focused on furthering his education. Elias loves to read and relax after a long day.
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