Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Danielle Ryer

Danielle Ryer
New Jersey, USA

My name is Danielle – you may know me as the editor of UVoA.

I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life, but everything I’ve experienced has taught me to exercise caution, patience, understanding and love. That it’s okay to go for what you want, so long as you’re not doing anything unethical, and that you still consider others along the way. As you move forward, life’s about lifting others up with you. I’ve gone through a lot of difficult times, but all in all it’s taught me to laugh and be mindful.

I believe in being authentically true in what you think and feel. When you can help someone, do it, while still remembering that you and your continued existence is your first, but not only priority.

My philosophy in life is inspired by the Tao Te Ching. One of my autistic special interests is in Asian culture. I’ve been to Japan in 2018, and China in 2019, for study abroad (see picture above!).

I went to undergraduate school at Rowan University, where I earned two BA Degrees: Psychology, and a second in Philosophy & Religion in 2017. I am now a part-time Master of Social Work student at Rutgers University, and I graduate May 2021.

I have many dreams about where my life may go. While I am pursuing the path of becoming a social worker, particularly an outpatient therapist/coach, I’m also dipping into the path of entertainment. I’d love to someday have a television show where I satirize the mental health field. I also enjoy being a radio personality and talking about mental health where I can. As well, I’m hoping to publish a book in 2021 or 2022. I'll have a lot more to say then, and I hope you'll follow my work and consider reading once it's published. (My FB Pages are here: [comedy, mental health], [advocacy & coaching].)

I like staying busy. I have many hats right now: I’m the editor here at Unashamed Voices of Autism, The Aspergian, a freelance editor (if you want to know more, ask), and I am also a writer. I am a life coach for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families, I also do motivational speaking on this topic and others (about my service, and my Facebook). I’m a counselor at Crisis Text Line (read my story here). I’m a former radio DJ (archive), podcaster, stand-up comedian. I’m also training in karate! Psst, free comedy about me being autistic!

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Monday, November 4, 2019

Anonymous 5

Age 30
Georgia, US

I am a graduate student.

I've made several attempts to figure out where I fit in this world that would also allow me to support myself and use my capabilities to my advantage. I feel much closer to that goal than ever. I am learning Project Management in IT and more advanced business practices. I enjoy it.

Something someone would be surprised to know about me is that I also like watching horror game play-throughs, but I don't like horror movies.

My biggest accomplishment thus far is making it as far as I have with my optimism intact. It hasn't been easy to hold on to.

I'm trying to incorporate more kindness into my life every day through my interactions with others. I want to be kind to others, even if that kindness isn't returned. I'm trying to get better at showing that same kindness to myself and trying to accept myself as I am right here and now, and feeling like I'm enough.

Something I wish neurotypicals knew about autism is that sometimes it's a subtle thing. The pressure to mask and keep up appearances is exhausting day in and day out. I'm doing my best.

Something I want to tell fellow autistics: It's okay to move at the pace that's best for you. It may not match what society says is "correct," but even neurotypical people might struggle with this. It's okay to take breaks and pace yourself.

I've only recently had access to a few resources, such as counseling and academic support for my classes. One of my biggest advocacy milestones has been talking to professors to let them know what's going on. If I had been diagnosed sooner then I may have had access to resources; especially counseling and classes. Online classes have been great for me, as I can do them at my own pace as long as I get it done by the deadline.

I noticed that I wasn't interested in a lot of the same things as my peers and had a lot of trouble recognizing and regulating emotions. I was bullied in elementary school and had a rough home life so I retreated into my imagination and played a lot of video games and read a lot of books.

Once I got to college, I started going to counseling in order to process a lot of the pain I was carrying around. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. That diagnosis just felt...off. Like, it was close, but it didn't answer all of the questions I had. I had nothing else to go on, so I just went with it.

Looking at myself, I noticed a few different signs that I was on the spectrum, such as my fidgeting, stimming, masking and mimicking emotions/personality traits. I had immense relief when I was first diagnosed; like a question I'd had my entire life had finally been answered. Today, I feel like I don't have to mask as often and can be more authentically myself. Accepting it is hard sometimes, especially when I have to accept that there are some things that are triggering to me, and that would be unhealthy for me.

In school, I took theatre and chorus, and this helped me along the way.

After I graduated, I began working at a martial arts school with students and coworkers that were on the spectrum or had other neuro-divergences and I began to listen and relate to their stories and recognized their behavior patterns in myself that I tried my best to mask ever since I was a child. I began to research and self-diagnosed myself with ASD (Asperger Syndrome) and found out that women on the spectrum often get misdiagnosed and overlooked. I got tested by a psychologist, and I felt relieved. So deeply relieved. I also felt like I had permission to stand up for myself and advocate for what I need, rather than settling into what society says I'm "supposed" to do. I'm wired differently, but that does not make me invalid or lesser. To get through before I had the diagnosis, I just had to take it one second, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. I still use that now.

I'm 31 and from the UK I was born in southeast London I now live in Cornwall

I'm a full time career to one of my disabled children and I love it.

People would be surprised to know that I'm autistic and ADHD but seriously most people would be surprised.

My children are my biggest accomplishment or the fact I got kicked out at 15 and everyone expected me to end up in prison or worse

I don't want to change me it's the world who needs to change be more accepting and less judgmental

I wish those who were not autistic understand that it most likely genetic I'm not selfish or weird and that not everyone has autism a little bit.

I want to tell fellow autistics: it doesn't matter what age your diagnosed. I was 31 so this year. Don't ever think it's to late because it's not! it helps put things into perspective or why things are the way they are! just do it! don't be afraid!

Funny story about me: When I first started dating my husband at 17 I got that drunk the night before & I wet the bed . I flipped the mattress and forgot all about it and invited my now husband over for dinner to my hostel.. I told him to sit down he said "oooo why is the bed wet?" I quickly said "oooo a cat must of snuck in through my window and wee'd on the bed!" not sure if he believed me but he said okay........ I told him what happened few years later he laughed and said "I thought that was it but didn't want to say anything to u"...

When I was first diagnosed I felt relieved and joy and anger all at the same time as I should of been helped growing up from my parents and school not chucked out and just called weird and rude.

I did not get the help I needed in school was put in the bottom groups for everything got kicked out at 15/16 due to being a naughty awful child who didn't want to listen supposedly then got no help from social services was placed in a council bed and breakfast (legally not allowed to stick anyone under 18 in these ) I did not know this then I couldn't afford rent didn't have a proper Job so was made homeless again ended up in national offenders hostels (I wasn't a offender and had not been to jail) I was just left to rot basically my mental health is a bit more messed up thanks to all that and those horrid places I lived the people I met.

I have overcame a lot of battles in my life. I had to learn to cook clean all at 15 years old. somehow feed myself with no money to pay rent or anything! which I learned in the end being attacked amongst other horrid stuff but I over came it all because I never wanted to be stuck in that life. I attended Prince's Trust Course was one in particular and met my now husband at age 17 (I'm 31). We have five kids all have special needs but we cope somehow. I'm happy although I am a mental mess most days but we get by with my husband's help.


32 from Ohio (cleveland area) but will be moving to Nashville TN soon) I work at tech support for Spectrum internet. It's alright. I actually make decent money now. something someone might be surprised to know about me is: Im really smart even if i seem not smart since im so forgetful. I pick up on objective information VERY fast. Like I remember my ex's home address and the college major of one of my former hs classmates

My biggest accomplishment thus far is: Admitting that I might actually be good at writing and then writing three novels, and self published two more and currently writing a third ABOUT an autistic woman

How I want to change the world? Simple. I want to have more people create found families. I want it to be normal to have a house with people you arent romantically involved with that arent blood related. i want us to all live in loving communities!

I wish more people were aware of autism. People don't realize that they already know autistic people. For example, the excentric professor trope is an autistic person. But no every autisic person is the same.

Here is where you can check out my books:

  My name is Elizabeth.  I’m 37 years old, and live in Rockville, Maryland (just outside Washington, D.C.).  I’m a paralegal at a small law firm.  I like the work because it’s mostly solitary, focused on small manageable tasks like preparing and filing paperwork, and proofreading and doing research.  That I have a steady job at all is a big accomplishment for me.  I struggled through most of my twenties.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I had no career plans after leaving high school, or college.  I liked writing, and doing things on my own.  

    My first excursions out into the working world were disastrous.  I didn’t know how to handle the social aspects or issues with my boss.  At one of my first jobs, I got in trouble for “slacking off”, because I’d finished my tasks for the day.  I didn’t know that I was expected to ask around if there was anything else I could do.  If that had been communicated to me, I would have done so.  But that I was just expected to know made me angry.

   My mother told me that when I was younger, a doctor thought I was autistic.  She put me in day care because she thought being around other kids would force me to become more sociable.  It didn’t work.  I didn’t speak to my teachers unless I wanted something (one teacher shrieked in surprise when I asked to use the bathroom, after being silent most of the year), and on the playground, I went straight for the swings, I think because they were solitary, and I could soar above the other kids playing, when I didn’t know how to join them, or was even sure if I wanted to.  Years later, when I was 18, my mother read an article in the New York Times detailing a forgotten subset of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome, and said it described me perfectly.  I was officially diagnosed by a psychologist one year later.

   I found a book by Tony Attwood, and found that much of it described me.  I didn’t know how to respond in social situations, I “thought in pictures” as Temple Grandin described it (when reading, I always have an image in my head to correspond to the words on the page), I was sometimes “too honest” (my mother frequently yelled at me because I didn’t understand why I wasn’t supposed to say certain things), and I had obsessive interests that served as my sole conversation points. 
There were several signs from early in my life that I was “different.”  I stimmed (I still play with my hair and tap my fingers and pace when I’m stressed or need to process information), I had severe echolalia (I still find myself repeating words, only now after studying how to act I know to only repeat the words in my head), I loved routine, and hated surprises.  My mother said she used to have to count down when we had to go somewhere.  “We have to leave in ten minutes…we have to leave in five minutes.”  Otherwise, I would have a tantrum.

    I still have meltdowns.  Sometimes at work, I get overwhelmed by too many tasks and too many noises that I have to hold my head and make everything still for a moment.  I want to scream, but I know I can’t.  I’ve gotten in trouble at work because I forgot where I was, and started cursing under my breath when I was in the middle of a meltdown.  But I’m learning how to handle them.  I now know to leave the building if I feel one coming. 

  The idea that there are things that everyone is “just expected to know”, and how frustrating those expectations are for someone with autism, is something I wish more neurotypicals understood.  My father once yelled at me because I didn’t hold the door for someone coming in behind me.  I thought they could open the door for themselves.  I didn’t know the rule about holding the door for anyone behind you.  I don’t understand why eye contact is the measure of sincerity and good communication, since all it does is make me uncomfortable.  Looking at someone’s face actually makes it harder for me to process what they’re saying.  All my life, I’ve had my sincerity doubted because of my voice’s “tone.”  I didn’t understand why my tone mattered.  I still don’t.  I thought all I had to do was say the words that corresponded to the message I wanted to convey.  I always thought my words were enough.  I didn’t realize that I had to attach a corresponding emotion to each word, like neurotypicals need color coding on each word to attach an underlying meaning. 

  I also wish neurotypicals wouldn’t claim they understand how I feel when they clearly don’t.  When you claim you understand, your confused and hostile reactions to my atypical reactions to a world that confuses me are all the more jarring, and insulting.  If you don’t understand how I feel, but want to, just say so.  If you’re honest like that, I can tell you’re coming to me from a place of genuine curiosity, and I will be happy to explain how I see the world as best I can.
In addition to autism, I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life.  I’ve wondered if the two conditions are related.  I was born into a world that rejected me for not fitting in, and not understanding it when they didn’t bother explaining anything to me.  So I thought I was fundamentally wrong, leading to my depression and isolation.  I’m quiet not necessarily because I’m shy (though I can be), but because I feel I was shamed into silence by people who told me, either explicitly or implicitly, that everything I said was wrong.  So I stopped speaking.  It wasn’t until I found people who understood and were patient when I took a social misstep that I felt comfortable talking again.

  So I lost potential friends, got in conflicts with bosses, didn’t forge connections to people who could have helped me navigate through life, all because I didn’t know the “right” way to communicate.  So the fact that I have a job that pays well, and can live on my own, is something I never thought I would achieve.  Sometimes I feel like I’m behind.  In my late thirties, I’m proud of being at the spot where people ten years younger already are.  But it feels good that, after years of the world telling me I did everything wrong, that I was defective, I can live my own life, do things for myself, and even make friends.  It just took me a little longer.  Because I did not start from the same place as everyone else.  I had to learn social cues and rules like someone else has to learn a foreign language.  I knew the words, but not the meaning imbued by a shared social context that I got left out of.  As a teenager, I remember thinking that I must have missed classes at “life school.”  But I feel like I’ve finally gone to life school, and though I’ll never know the social language with the depth of a native speaker, I picked up enough to get by.

I am 27 almost 28 and I was born in Michigan but was a military kid so we moved a lot. I currently live with roommates in Florida USA. I am a shift supervisor at Starbucks and I love my job. It is the best. I love what I do. I have been with them for 5 years and am a certified coffee master through my company. Something someone might be surprised to know about me is that I also have epilepsy and I am adopted. How do I want to change the world? I would like to cure epilepsy.

Funny story about me: I am super gullible. So one time, my boss told me there was a pool on the roof and I believed him for two weeks until I realized it was sarcasm. He felt bad but I thought it was funny.
I wish non-autistics were aware that I have emotions. I care sooo deeply. I am human. I am not a freak and I am not trying to make anyone “uncomfortable” there is nothing I can do about this. I was born like this.

I want to tell fellow autistics that: It’s okay to be you. Don’t worry about pleasing other people.

I was not diagnosed until I was an adult and my parents didn’t really believe anything was wrong with me. But once we sat down and got diagnosed they were like “Oh that habit makes sense now…” etc. So I never got the help I needed in school or anything. I did pick up sign language and that helps for when I cannot communicate with the outside world. I have awesome understanding coworkers who get it.
How did I get diagnosed? I was curious after doing some research and unfortunately being in a mental health setting for self harm and suicidal tendencies. They made the diagnosis along with my psychiatrist I was seeing at the time. Once I was diagnosed I found it Scary. But it told me a lot about myself and why I do things the way I do. It was good and bad. Today how I feel about my autism is the same as before. I am just more aware of what's happening and able to calm down much faster now that I know what is going on.
It was hard to make friends and I was very lonely. I tried my best but it was also hard to get through school. I needed more time and help. Honestly, my friends and my job gets me through the day

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

I'm 21 from Idaho and I love being in Idaho it's a pretty great community. People often times are surprised when they find out that I have had points in my life were I've been nonverbal. My biggest accomplishment I feel so far is my Instagram page were I advocate for both autism and Dyspraxia. I want to try to help other autistics young or grown to feel accepted and less alone. I wish Neurotypicals knew what it's like to be constantly trying to be like them out of fear of being rejected and I wish they knew how much it hurts when organizations try to cure us or force us to be "less Autistic". Growing up my mother didn't get many recourses for me and I didn't get a diagnosis till I was 20. Recourses I use today are things like talk therapies for my mental health. My biggest thing I want to share with other autistics is that they are not alone and that it's ok to be different and to be them selves. I was a little surprised when I received my diagnosis but it was also freeing for me and I was no longer ashamed of the "quirks" I had. Not being diagnosed when I was young made a lot of things hard for me especially school. Highschool was one of the hardest things my Dyspraxia made it so I couldn't really write and I was nonverbal through out most of it. Teachers and other students bullied me and it was hard. My mother helped me in many ways to overcome a lot of that and I realize that I'm lucky I had a loving mother there to help me. I believe being autistic is part of what makes me , me and my mother has always been supportive of that for me and my other autistic siblings.

50 Yrs old...Alberta Canada What I do for a living: Sell my artwork from home ...also on disability....Love being my own boss.. People would be surprised to know that I am the only one in my family of 5 who is NOT a malignant narcissist.
My biggest accomplishment thus far is being happily married for 21 years. I live by the motto ...Be the change you want to see in the world...So I am a positive...respectful...accepting person. I wish fellow autistics to know that: Don't mask...just be your glorious autistic self...live autistically

I wish those who were not autistic knew To learn how to recognize and respect our processes....don't mess with my process and we are good. Things that have helped is me is watching videos of Temple Grandin...Speech therapy...seeing a therapist. Signs that indicated that I am autistic: I rock and finger pinch...avoid eye contact....usually when stressed...my first therapist has an autistic son and recognized my stims...my speech patterns...she said she suspected I was autistic...got a new therapist...she just finished working with autistic adults in her last job...recommended to my doc to be set up for further testing...2 years ago...just got my official diagnosis yesterday. Clarity to the extreme once I first received a diagnosis..I have always felt like I was missing something all my life...is why I relate to the puzzle piece...is like all my life doing a puzzle and always missing one piece....my dx was that missing piece. I have Chron's and an illiostomy...short gut syndrome...a severe muscle disorder...OCD..ADHD...CPTSD..Severe social anxiety....have had 21 surgeries...was raised by 2 malignant narcissists...both my siblings are malignant narcissists...these are the obstacles...pure determination to rise above....I removed all the toxic people from my life completely...I stopped masking...I have a plethora of coping tools...ranging from deep breathing exercises....meditations...visualizations...herbs...I push through my anxieties by being mindful and assessing my surroundings....distractions....creativity....

I am 19 and from Queensland, Australia.
I’m actually currently unemployed and have never worked before. I would need somebody by my side to help me as I get confused and meltdown easily. I hope to one day work with cats though! I would love to open my own cattery or work in an existing one. A lot of people find it quite surprising to know that I’m very educated on geography and some fragments of history. This isn’t an overly big deal within the autistic community as we all have our own special interests, but to the non-autistic people who don’t personally know me, they become rather impressed with my extensive knowledge. My biggest accomplishment so far was getting my driver’s license! I need somebody in the car with me when driving but this was a really big step for me personally. It’s still scary and sometimes I can’t believe that I am actually a licensed driver. It feels refreshing and amazing. I would love for the world to be more mindful of autistic and neurodiverse people and to be more accommodating. I have just started to run a blog in the hopes of teaching non-autistic people what it is like to be me and what autistic people want them to know. I have had to make big changes for myself personally so that I am able to function in this allistic-built kingdom; sunglasses to help shield my eyes from the harsh every-day lights and noise-cancelling headphones to provide myself with relief from background and loud noises. I wish body language and eye contact were not as important during job interviews and that children were not expected to be born Neurotypical. I wish Neurotypicals understood that autism is not a scale, rather it is a big, colourful spectrum that depends on the individual. Just because I was deemed “more functioning” and “clever” does not mean I don’t require help a lot of the time. I can’t be myself in public, have frequent meltdowns, engage in self-harming behaviours but am verbal, can hold eye contact for short periods of a time and present Neurotypical for the most part. I wish non-autistics knew that functioning labels are harmful and that we do not need or want a cure.
I want other autistics to know and understand that their lives are worth every achievement, meltdown and struggle. Some days are going to be super tough but try to remember that there will be other days where you feel empowered and inspired. Be proud of your neurotype — we are unique individuals with different wants and needs.

My Mum has told me that she suspected I was on the spectrum since a very young age. My delayed speech, poor balance and overall motor skills were big signs. Behaviour wise I was a very shy and awkward kid and teenager. My social cutoff was thirteen. I would fixate on certain subjects but also struggle significantly in school. I was actually diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder at around the age of thirteen and had trouble understanding what people were saying to me. I would only understand clearly if they talked slow and there was no background noise. My meltdowns were frequent and my parents couldn’t understand why I was acting like I was all of the time.
Because I was diagnosed in adulthood, I did not receive a lot of professional help such as speech therapy. I experienced delayed speech as a child but my parents did not want to push for a diagnosis. I was however granted the opportunity to participate in therapy for my mental state and that has helped a lot. As an adult but with my parents’ help I now plan on seeing a hearing specialist for Auditory Processing Disorder, receiving physiotherapy in the hopes to correct my poor posture and then OT. I struggle daily with poor muscle tone which I have discovered a lot of autistics have. Funny story about me: When I was around the age of twelve, my family and I went to the local park for a day out and I decided to bring along my skates and a clipboard with paper. I was pretty social at the age and took it upon myself to skate around the park with my clipboard to ask all of these strangers whether or not they litter. I don’t know why I was so fixated on that certain issue at the age but my family brings it up today and we still laugh at me being a dork. At first I absolutely wanted to deny my diagnosis. Before I was educated and enlightened on autism I always thought of it as this terrible thing that needed to be eradicated. I feel more than bad about that now because now I know that autism is not bad and that it’s a different neurotype that can not possibly be cured. I thought a lot of terrible things before my diagnosis and I regret every misconception I had. When I understood what autism was and I connected with other auties I was then relieved with my diagnosis. I now know why I am the way I am and I couldn’t be happier. I love who I am and wouldn’t change my neurotype for anything. Today I feel happy. I feel relieved that I am not alone and that I can finally experience freedom from masking. It is taking me a while.

I'm 26 from st Louis, Missouri

I'm working on being a video editor/ youtuber and working on a book of poem

I think people would be surprised i write poems.

My biggest accomplishment is that I turned out to be a good person.

I wish people would like themselves more.

I wish the neurotypical people would understand that just because some is diagnosed with autism, aspergers, or pdd that its not a death sentence and we are our own person with great personalities.

To the rest of the people on the spectrum id say its ok to be weird. most people respect the fact you are being yourself and will give you the time of the day.

I went to a special ed middle school (the Miriam school). They gave speech therapy, fine motor skills help and a lot i can never repay them for. Miriam helped my social skills tremendously.

Funny story about me: One of the first friends in 2nd grade I made was by him throwing a ball at my head and basically saying play with me.

I was diagnosed with OCD at 5, ADHD at 6 and Aspergers at 7 so i didn't think much of it until i got older. when i got older i started resenting it and myself. I wouldn't tell anyone i have it and I distanced myself from people with the same or similar disabilities as me.
My views changed toward my disorder. It just happened gradually. Probably started when I started talking to my middle school friends again.

I went through the typical things. being bullied, not knowing how to stand up for myself and lots of switching schools. Also had a hard time making friends. I'm decent at making friends now. people just tend to like me. The only reason I've made it through has been my family, i have a great support system.

I do believe my diagnosis is a strength. it gives me a perspective most people dont have.

A poem I've written:

If only this could be a fable but Im mentally unstable, its like when an earthquake hits but you're on top of the table. I have aspergers, so whenever i do something social im awkward and it happens like Clockwork. Im living with adhd and a coat with a phd is prescribing me concerta or adderall. I just want to be better yall. I wish i could stay on one topic but my mind is like a ball pit that a bomb went off in. And next comes ocd. It makes my brain go woe is me. I wish i didnt perseverate on things that devestate my mental state. I wish i didnt have to be depressed, i just want to be content. Everything i want to do gets suppressed but i guess thats just a side effect. I never planned on trying to waste my self but I've been in the psych ward so many times that i pace around with my laces out, and ive never been chased around but I've seen someone try to hang themselves. Im mentally unstable and someday i hope to be under the table.

I'm 34 and currently live in Northern CA

I'm a mom. I both love and tire of it (though never hate it)
I make chainmail jewelry for fun

My biggest accomplishment thus far is recovering from a mental breakdown by the age of 17 and no longer being institutionalized, as predicted.

How I want to change myself is, I want to be less angry, show more love, so that I can model that for my children

I want those who are not autistic to know: It's not a horrible thing, but it is something that requires a different way of handling things but that doesn't make the autistic person bad or deficient

I want those who are also autistic to know: Keep trying. Keep breathing. The more we know about ourselves and can share it, the easier it gets.

Resources that have helped me: I had speech therapy as a kid, I don't know how my speech would be now without it.

Signs that indicated I am on the spectrum are: Meltdowns, inability to handle variety of situations, need for quiet, alone time, retreat spaces, stim behaviors

I didn't get formally dx'ed, but when I came to the personal realization it felt like a weight was lifted. It hasn't been long. I still feel lighter. Wish I'd known as a child.

Life would have been easier if I was diagnosed in childhood. I think if I'd known there wasn't something wrong, that it wasn't my fault, I would have had an easier time living and wouldn't have spent the first 16 years of my life constantly trying to end it.

Obstacles I have overcame: Institutionalization as a teen, repeated suicide attempts, fibromyalgia, chronic pain. How is a whole other matter that I don't even know how to start on.

What indicated to me that I am on the spectrum is from a book I read, I don't remember the title it was ten years ago. The author was/is autistic and her descriptions of her life were just so... Close to what I remember. My mom discounted it, and I forgot about it for ten years, until we started exploring my son's neurology. I think I never got a diagnosis was because
I was fairly "high functioning" I guess. I wanted desperately to fit in, so a lot of my 'weird' behaviors weren't noticed. I think maybe my mom just thought all kids were like me?

25, Southern Tier New York. Employment is debt collection, it’s a means to get by and I’m making the best of it. I talk on the phone, which I am better at than talking in person. My dream job is being a Doctor if Osteopathic Medicine. The knowledge I have gained on healing the body is the biggest achievement I have accomplished thus far. I want to bring about acute awareness and thoroughness when it comes to healing people. I wish more people who are not autistic understood sensory problems and stimming. I haven’t sought a diagnosis. Unfortunately I went unseen. I knew I was different and unique but I did a very good job blending in even though it was torturous to my mental wellbeing. A few teachers suspected ADHD, but it never got seriously addressed, my “issues” got put on the back-burner because my brother’s were more “in their face”. My ability (and the expectation) to blend in was also another reason I was unseen.

What originally made me think that I might be autistic? First, I am fascinated with psychology and healing the body (including the mind), so I have done thorough research on many, many conditions: autism being one. A lot of things started piecing together when I was reading about little girls and women with autism. I have faced many and mostly by myself with no guidance. Most recently I went to an interview, and the score I received on the written portion of the hiring process was very high, but I didn’t get hired because when they asked me questions face to face I couldn’t think or respond barely and I was staring out the window. (Lesson learned, if I interview now I prepare what I am going to say beforehand and completely memorize the dialogue.) I cannot reasonably function when put on the spot, it’s like my brain shuts off. So another obstacle I have thought of, one that is a huge factor in my life, is being overwhelmed with my children constantly touching/talking etc when I am trying to complete a task (dishes, phone call, etc) I have to grit my teeth to prevent myself from lashing out (and sometimes I don’t do a great job of holding back my irritation) they don’t mean to overwhelm me, and I don’t mean to lash out and I always feel guilty if I do (I’m working on EXPLAINING rather than EXPRESSING) When I am playing with them or intending on talking with or being touched it is totally fine, but it seems in every other instance I am overwhelmed with my inability to focus in peace on a task and constantly being interrupted really triggers me. Another thing is with my significant other (who has PTSD from his childhood) triggers me to becomes emotionally overwhelmed sometimes to the point I just want to smash my head (and actually do sometimes) because the feelings I get are just too much and too frustrating... he generally doesn’t do this on purpose, and it’s generally when he had a ptsd episode himself. It can be difficult at times in our relationship especially because he doesn’t recognize my own personal struggles or that is how it feels at least. So I feel misunderstood which sucks in general... this is to extend on the “what I wish people understood” — stimming is something I do when I’m really happy or really overwhelmed with an emotion that I literally can’t stand it so I kinda shake my hands and scrunch my face together and rub my hands together... which I’m afraid makes me look “weird” ... so I try not to do it but it truly is something I prefer to be able to do and I wish there were more resources so I could maybe get an actual diagnosis, but I have stigma against doctors and professionals because my personal experience with them has been less than good. Every time I have gone to a doctor or mental health professional or psychiatrist, etc... I go in with an open mind but I always end up knowing more about things and seeing connections that they don’t see, so I feel discouraged about seeking any type of help like that. I do wish I could find somebody compatible with me intellectually and emotionally that would suit and be helpful but I think it’s next to impossible...

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

’m 40 years old by human quantification. I am proudly from Atlanna or ATL or Atlanta, Georgia. I am a Mom, an artist, and an empath. Music has always been my obsession; houseplants are my newest one and when I was young, it was dinosaurs, art & reading. I realized that I am Autie recently when I was searching on Agony Autie’s YouTube channel for videos on how to better support my son, who is 4.5 years old and Autistic. He was diagnosed when he was almost 2 or shortly thereafter. I watched her Live Chat video- ‘My Autistic Diagnosis’-on how she was diagnosed as an adult. Watching the first hour of it I cried the whole time because I had never in my life heard someone echo my experiences from my earliest memories into being a young adult. It made my life make total sense and I was scared and relieved at the same time. I knew that Autism was genetic at this point already, so, it wasn’t so hard to question if I was but when I heard her say “You don’t identify with something you’re not...you don’t identify with...something you’re not aligned with” it was validating and really drove it home for me. It made me feel less crazy. I had a lot of questions and have a great Autie friend who helped me realize and is patient with me. I still have imposter syndrome on the regs. I think I wasn’t diagnosed as a child b/c honestly my Mom was dealing with my Dads alcoholism and behavior and trying to raise me and support us. I also think I fell thru the cracks b/c I was/am a girl/woman & have learned how to “be” around different groups of friends & people. I knew I slipped thru the cracks now looking back. Also b/c I grew up in the 80s. Even though I’ve always been my own person & rebelled against society I would have to prepare mentally to get thru and over some anxiety before socializing. I always felt like an outsider looking in. I knew I was different from the beginning. The barriers I face with my diagnosis are the cost of testing & the skill of the person giving the test...I highly doubt my insurance pays for it. I just got a hold of some specialized doctors who test adults last week...I think also my history of all my other mental diagnoses will probably be either a distraction or an “asset” in diagnosis. I have had depression since I can remember, suicidal ideation, and only just realized at 38 that I’ve had anxiety as well. I have Trich & Derm, PTSD, and my psychiatrist has me worked up as OCD. Plus, I’m female. I am currently unemployed. I’ve been in healthcare as a surgical tech in the Operating Room of some major hospitals here in the South. You name the surgery, I’ve seen it and helped. From birthing babies to organ donation. I was in healthcare for the last 23 years aside from the 2.5 years I spent as a stay-at-home Mom to my twins & my oldest son. Its been a blessing being jobless, in a way, b/c I have had time to heal from my divorce/life and really think about what I want to do that will make me happy that will also pay the bills. Something that I think people will be surprised to know about me is that I’m self-diagnosed Autie. I have only told my psych/therapist and a few (3) people & my Mom that I think I am. I feel I’m pretty much you get what you get from me once I let you in. I don’t have any special tricks. I hate water. I cant dive, ski or rollerblade. Nope. My biggest fear is the ocean and huge waves of water. The only thing is that I can “feel & see” at the same time people’s feelings & thoughts even before they say it. Its usually a transparent orb of grey in their abdomen section. How do I want to change the world? If I change myself I can help change the world. Its an inside job. If it is to be, it must begin with me. The only “saying” I can get right. I’m terrible with those and always screw them up. They make no sense. If I am part of this world, I can change it by changing myself and doing my part. I get very frustrated when people don’t do right-lately it’s how fast people drive and there’s no regard for life on the road from drivers. So I would make everyone slow down and notice that there’s a billion people around them. Life is beautiful. It must be noticed. The obstacles I have faced in life: seem like many. I feel like I’m an alumni and student at the same time at the School of Hard Knocks. My whole life has been an obstacle. Peers always told me I was weird and now I just feel even more so...like an alien on Earth. It feels like I am terminally unique. I come from an alcoholic/codependent/divorced family.When I got married it went downhill quick. I realized toward the middle that he was an alcoholic. I ended up leaving one night out of the blue b/c I was suicidal and just at rock bottom. He never asked me if I needed help. Its ok now with me b/c he was in no shape to help me anyways now that I look back. I dont even know that person I was then anymore. I have worked hard to get where I am at. I have actually been happy (???) the past couple months..

I don’t trust that feeling. I joined Al Anon, a support group for families/friends of alcoholics. It has changed my life and how I interact with people. I go to therapy regularly. I take my meds. I love my kids. That’s what I do know. Life will be ok. I guess I’ll add one more thing to digest. Being Autistic. Its ok with me. It has answered a lot of questions for me