Hello! My name is Peyton-Justine, but I go by PJ.
Why? Because having two, first names is confusing, and PJ is simple. I've always been a
Except for the fact that I live with a little condition called autism spectrum disorder.
Even though I mention autism a lot, I try not to go into too much detail about it.
I'm not "a person with autism", I AM autistic. I want to define what ASD truly means; I won't
let it define me.
Now, you're probably asking, "Then, what does define you, if you're trying to define ASD?"
Let's start from the beginning:
I was born and raised in Seattle, WA, USA. Arguably, one of the greatest cities in the
entire world. I had some of the best resources I could've had. By the time I was one year
old, I was reading foam words that my mom arranged in front of me. She would spell
multiple words, but would ask me to find a specific one. I would point to it. When I was
two years old, I had already started reading and identifying words on a newspaper.
Yet, I didn't say a single word. Of course, my mom took me to a doctor first.
"Ma'am, your child should be saying a couple hundred words by now," the doctor said. "She's not saying anything?"
So, my mom did what any parent would probably do: put me in speech therapy. There, we learned that I had both speech apraxia (a motor disorder; in which I couldn't open my jaw to produce any words) and hyperlexia. They both can be traits of autism. I was in speech therapy from 2-6 years of age. After that point, I was finally put in elementary school. However, there was another problem: I was never "officially" diagnosed with autism because of several factors, including never being referred to a psychologist and the cost. We were told verbally that I was on the spectrum, but we didn't have the papers to prove it. We learned because of my mixed traits of both Asperger's Syndrome and "classic" autism, I didn't fit in either category. Much later in life, I would finally discover the category I'm 99.9% sure I would've been diagnosed with: PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified). Also known as Atypical Autism. Because I didn't have proof in writing, it would come back to bite me.
For the next 12 years of my life, I struggled in school. I had problems focusing, taking in information, being vocal, and speaking my mind. I didn't know how to. But there was one way I did know how to speak my mind: through the power of music.
When I was 5 years old, I started singing. I discovered Coldplay after hearing "Clocks" playing on the radio on my way to school. Ever since, I have loved Coldplay more than anything else (well... besides my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but that's a different story). They are the reasons that I started singing and writing music. Throughout my elementary and middle school years, I was too anxious to sing in front of people. I knew I had at least some talent since I practiced every single day, but I was afraid that I wasn't good enough. But one day in high school, I finally told myself that it didn't matter what anyone else thought. What mattered was how much I would enjoy singing in front of people and sharing my story through a different perspective. And so, I finally sang at my school's talent show freshman year in high school. I sang the first song I ever wrote called, "Revolution". Not only is it the name of my upcoming first album, but it's also the name of my fanbase (even though I hate the word, "fanbase"): "Revolutionizers" or "Revolts" for short.
After that night, I had never felt more alive (even to this day). My vision of sharing my story and my struggles had begun to come true. My vision of "revolutionizing" the music industry by writing more positive and realistic music was now a reality. One day, I hope that I get to share all of my stories with everyone.
Ever since that performance, I haven't looked back.
Now, I'm sharing some of those stories. Not through music (yet), but through YouTube, acting, modeling, and being a self-advocate. I've never had any formal lessons in my life, but people say that I have a talent that I shouldn't waste. I'm not doing this because this is my dream, it's my reason. I hate being put under the spotlight. I wish there were a way for me to raise acceptance without gaining attention, but if people believe in me, I'm not going to let them down.
So, to answer the question, "Then, what does define you?"
My individual story. My journey to get where I am today, is what defines me.