Indiana Daily Student

Karli VanCleave


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Senior Abe Shapiro was diagnosed with autism around the first grade. “Autism is a distinct type of characteristic, not a disease,” Shapiro said. “It gives you certain quirks” Now, Abe is about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. “The main thing is to not let it define you, at the end of the day, we’re all human.”

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Abe holds a Titanic National Geographic magazine that usually sits above his desk. He found the 1986 edition titled “A long last look at Titanic” when wandering around a Bloomington antique shop with his girlfriend, Emmy Helfrich. “I was over the moon,” he said.

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Abe attends almost every Students on the Spectrum meeting, a support group for students and community members with autism. “I understand them, and they understand me,” he said.

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Sarah and Abe set up the scoreboard for the next round of bowling with the Neurodiversity Coalition at IU. “She’s defended me a lot,” Abe said. “She’s been there for me when I needed her the most.”

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Abe kisses his stuffed duck, Steven, that he picked out with his mother when he was five. “He has definitely gotten me through some tough times,” Abe said. Next to him sits his weighted blanket, which he uses to manage stress. Abe also likes to stick himself in tight spaces.

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Abe wraps the cord of his headphones around his fingers as he talks to a friend on the street. He uses the headphones to block out sounds. “My ears would probably explode if I went to a rave,” he said.

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Senior Abe Shapiro was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome around first grade. Now, Abe is about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from IU. “The main thing is to not let it define you,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re all human.”

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