My biggest accomplishment is my ability to survive. I come from an abusive family where education was not a high priority. We we're poor, life was hard, and I dropped out of high school my junior year. I took a class and got me GED when I was 18 then spent the next 10 years working 2-3 jobs while going to college. I put myself through nursing school and am now an ICU nurse at a large hospital. It certainly would have been easier if I knew my diagnosis back then, but I have proved to myself that I can do hard things.
I want those who are not autistic to know:
*Autism isn't this scary horrible thing. It's beautiful, different, awkward, silly, logical, emotional, the list goes on. Autism challenges you as a parent to learn more, be resourceful, and do better. Autism challenges you as an individual in so many ways I don't know I can adequately explain it. Kids with autism don't want to give you (the parent) a hard time, they are having a hard time. The world does not accept differences well, and autism is full of amazing differences.
To those who are also autistic I want you to know
*You are beautiful. You are strong. You are loved. You are loveable. You are full of brilliance. You can do hard things. You are you, and that is perfec
Why I wasn’t diagnosed as a child: My mom was a single mom dealing with an abusive ex-husband and doing her best to survive and shield us from as much abuse as possible. Once my father finally left the picture for good, she had to deal with 4 kids who were abused, while trying to keep food on the table. When I was a kid she would help me label my emotions. My teachers always said I had many friends (which was not actually true). As a teenager I was labeled emotional, hormonal, aggressive, empathetic, uncaring, aloof, depressed, bipolar, ADHD, the list goes on. My siblings and my mother accused me of being bitchy on a daily basis. I wasn't diagnosed because I'm smart and had an abusive upbringing. Everything was blamed on me being too emotional or the abuse I was subjected too by the hands of my father.
What made me realize I am Autistic:
*When my oldest daughter (M) was 2.5 years old, I noticed she was struggling with loud and unexpected sounds. She had a complete meltdown in dance class. M also had some separation anxiety, but she's 2, some kids are more shy than others right? We had a new baby at home, maybe that was increasing her anxiety levels. The next year things continued to get worse. M wouldn't even acknowledge her baby sister, she would scream if the baby got near her. M would scream if someone touched her without it being her idea. And she began playing in ways that didn't seem typical for her age. We had a birthday party for baby sis and invited very close friends and family. M wouldn't leave my side for 45 minutes. She was genuinely overwhelmed by people at our house. She only finally left my side because I gave her invisibility glasses. And I had to help her join the group of playing kids. She seemed confused about how to play with them. At this point I started doing research. I love research, it's my hobby. And I was starting to think autism. Then someone on a Facebook group sent me a link to female specific autism traits. Going through the list, everything applied to my daughter, then one of them was me.. then the next one was me.. then he next one and the next.. I fit almost all the traits on that list. So my research continued. I started taking online tests for autism and every single one of them I scored high. At first i thought I was crazy. Then, I felt validated. My life has been HARD! I struggle with keeping friends, and picking up on social cues. I practice conversations and situations ahead of time and try to imagine how everything will go. I plan everything to excruciating detail, because it decreases my anxiety. I offend people, often, and usually never know why. It is almost impossible for me to control my emotions, especially if I am stressed, though I get better at it every day. And I'm told the tone of my voice is often misleading. Its difficult for me to express myself and explain what I mean to people. I struggle with personal relationships because I need to have my alone time, and I feel like the older I get, the more responsibilities I have and the more people rely on me, the more I need recharge time. I thought about seeking out a diagnosis, then put it aside because I was putting all my effort into fighting for my daughter's diagnosis and getting therapies started. I see so much of myself in her, and I don't want her to struggle like I have, even if I can just take some of the struggle away. For now, my own diagnosis is on the back burner, mostly because it won't change anything in my life except further self validation. But I think it might be helpful to my daughter at some point to know that Mom has it too and mom is doing ok.
Obstacles I face:
I think the barriers I face are those of my own. Not knowing if they will believe me, because I am "successful" despite all my struggles. I'm afraid my family and friends wouldn't believe me, although I did tell my mother I thought I was Asperger's, and she agreed it made sense. A few close friends also agreed that it makes sense. I'm nervous to be open about this, because I don't know how people will respond. Most people don't fully understand autism, so how would my coworkers and friends feel about working with one?