I am 28 and from Tennessee
My biggest personal accomplishment was when I joined and served in the military before receiving multiple head injuries resulting in some nerve damage that precluded me from being able to deploy anymore and was forced to end my service.
To those who are not autistic
That even though some of us can function at where you see us now it does not show the struggles and pains that it took to get us where we are today.
For others on the spectrum my advice would be to never give up on what you desire if you want it bad enough and work hard enough you can achieve anything.
For my own story I was originally diagnosed at 5 when my stepmother took me to be evaluated for ADHD and the doctor also did the evaluation for autism after a session with me as he suspected I could be autistic as well. I was diagnosed as both ADHD and autism. It was soon after this that my father and stepmother separated and I went to live with my fathers, father and his wife. They denied the diagnosis of autism even though I was still nonverbal at the time and didnt start speaking until I was in my second year of kindergarten as they had me mainstreamed and the school not understanding autism either had me held back due to this and other difficulties I was having. I didn't receive any of the services offered to kids such as ABA (though from stories I have been told I am glad I didn't), ot, or speech therapy or even a regular psychiatrist which would have been useful. I was forced thru mainstream classes where I struggled with noise, kids, and the subjects moving at to quick a pace and feeling like I was constantly behind everyone else. (I was never told of the diagnosis I received when I was a child until long after I graduated high school.) I started working harder than the other kids though and stopped asking for help (as I never received any anyway, it was always just blamed on me not working harder or trying enough) I figured out that I learned better by reading the lessons in the book myself than trying to follow what the teacher was trying to explain. In this way I was able to catch up to just behind the class in at least math, English, and science but still struggled horribly with history and world studies. This continued thru to middle school when I went back to my father for a year and half and struggled worse there for the neglect and abuse his girlfriend subjected me too. After that I lived with another set of grandparents, aunt, different aunt, and for a short time a foster home for the rest of middle school which I only barely managed to graduate from. As I was going into high school I was given the choice by the courts who I wanted to live with, here I made the worst and best choice of my life. I choose to go and live with my mothers mom and stepdad. Now up until this point I had not had any friends my age due to either I was too "weird" or they weren't really friends as they would only keep me around as long as I was either doing inappropriate things they told me to do or tricking me into doing things so they could make fun of me as my trusting nature would keep me from seeing at first.
With these grandparents everything seemed great at first while my aunt and her daughter and son we're also living there. When they moved out about 7 months after I got there things went down hill fast. I was subjected to all kinds of abuse and neglect there ranging from being the cause of my mothers death when I was 2 simply by being born, to being starved and/or abused on a regular basis. Towards the end of my sophomore year of high however I joined a program at school called tri-county upward bound. The program would take us one weekend a month and six weeks in the summer to Austin peay University where we would learn college courses and earn credits to use when we graduated high school.
During the first summer I got stuck rooming with a guy who was a friend of a friend, and we actually ended up becoming good friends ourselves. During my junior year I started spending as many weekends as I could at his house to avoid going home to my grandparents. His step dad saw the bruises and marks and the fact I only weighed about 110 at 17 and knew what he was seeing but couldn't prove anything so never reported it. But by the end of my junior year I had made an arrangement to live with them when I turned 18 that summer and they helped me to escape the situation I was in. I stayed with them for a couple months then had to move back to one of my aunts house to finish high school after which I joined the military.
I thrived in the military, it was the first place I ever had routine, structure, and set rules and boundaries. I did really well from day 1, we were always told what was happening the next day, we always had a routine we followed and very rarely did it get interrupted (at least for me and the until I was with) and even in Afghanistan I knew that there was always a possibility of something happening so it didn't effect me nearly as bad as something