Unaware of the diagnosis until late in life, Bronson Layton went on to prove that what makes him different from others is no obstacle to achieving every goal he sets his mind to.
Bronson Layton lived most of his life unaware of the fact that he'd been diagnosed with a rare form of autism at the age of two. His parents chose to keep the information from him for fear that it would impact his self-esteem and make him feel inferior to his peers. However, they needn't have worried as when Layton finally came to learn the truth, he embraced himself for who he was and went on to prove that what makes him different from others is no obstacle to achieving every goal he sets his mind to. He recently shared his inspiring story of self-acceptance in a moving Facebook post that's tugging at the heartstrings of netizens.
I come from a family that had never had a single record of ancestry with autism, not until the day I was born, Layton began. When I was two-years-old, my parents were still getting used to the lifestyle of raising a kid, but what they had noticed was what they considered “out of the ordinary” behavior. Whatever toys I played with, I placed them in a straight line, I had moody fits when I felt antagonized, etc. Soon after my parents noticed these signs, they took me to a child psychiatrist, who eventually informed them that I have been diagnosed with a rare form of autism called Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), a disorder that delays the neurological growth of a child’s brain.
The basic symptoms of this disorder include not being able to pick up social cues, possible isolation from interacting with friends or family, and the processing of speech, thinking, critical, and learning skills, the 22-year-old explained. My diagnosis was in 1999, a time when autism was still not commonly understood and was still being observed. My parents were initially shocked at this revelation, as well as from the subsequent news from an optometrist that I was going to grow up blind, but they (and I) were not prepared for how the following events positively changed our lives forever.
As I got older, I began to evolve from keeping to myself to interacting with other kids once I entered public school in first grade. I noticed how the other kids were able to answer questions in class a lot faster than I could understand. Because of my processed thinking, it took me two minutes to come up with an answer to the best of my abilities, he wrote. From that year on, I had received special accommodations for my coursework, such as sitting in front of the class to read the board better, and taking [a] longer time on tests. Since fourth grade, I joined my school’s marching band, something I never had any interest in, but my mom convinced me that it was a great way to not only make friends but to help gain more confidence in myself. I played the trumpet for two years, and after that, I played the baritone horn.
At the same time during fourth grade, I discovered my talent for creative writing. I realized on the day I wrote my first Spider-Man story, my processed thinking and my imagination harbored a fundamental feature for my character: a hidden talent, Layton revealed. As the years passed, and as I got older, I helped my fellow classmates and peer groups write essays, and I even shared what original pieces I wrote with my class occasionally, despite I was still unaware [of] my diagnosis. He finally came across the truth by chance one day while straightening up the house for his parents.
I found some papers scattered across the corner of one room near a filing cabinet. I picked them up and began reading because I was curious, he recounted. The bottom of one of the papers said, "Autism diagnosis confirmed," and I kept reading through the other papers to find a checklist of my habits and behavioral traits; it was from that fateful psychiatrist appointment thirteen years prior to my discovery. In that moment, I finally learned the real truth about myself. My parents kept it from me because they thought it would affect my self-esteem to the point that I felt like a freak to others, but I wasn’t mad at them. I understood why they’d hide this from me because they really love me, and ever since then, I’ve accepted who I am, and I use my talents to help others who need a friend.
Ever since my discovery, I led my class’s graduation as the valedictorian and class president, I've traveled to a prestigious college to earn a Master's degree in English in order to become a professor, I'm about to retire from marching in my college band since I've done so much in twelve years, I manage my own YouTube channel called "Brons Over Brains" that encourages people on the spectrum to be themselves and to overcome challenges while following my life journey, I've been able to make all A’s so far in my college career, the young man proudly stated.
Everyone, including the parents of children with autism, you are all on the right path in life, no matter how different you think you are from other people. Being different is never a bad thing. We are all unique in our own way because that’s the adventure of being human. Don’t worry, you’ve got this, Layton promised. If any of you need a friend and need advice on how to navigate through life with autism, I will be happy to share my experience as an autistic with you to show sympathy and compassion. Remember, you are never alone.