Saturday, February 16, 2019

My name is Laura and I am 49 years old, I live in Connecticut. I think my biggest accomplishment has been my 20 year nursing career and raising my daughter while navigating the world without a diagnosis or supports for most of my life. When I was a girl in the 1970's, there was a real lack of awareness about autism as a spectrum and about the diversity of presentation within the autism spectrum, especially in girls. So I went unidentified and I struggled a lot. Things were so bad socially for me that I dropped out of high school when I was 15 years old. I got a GED and eventually began taking one community college class at a time, slowly building up confidence. Eventually I graduated college and had a 20 year career as a RN and raised my beautiful daughter. I wish neurotypical people knew that we are capable of deep insight and empathy and emotional connection, we just perceive the world and express ourselves differently. For those on the spectrum I would tell you that neurodiversity is a beautiful thing and the world is a better place for having you in it. So many of us lead lives where we have to mask ourselves to navigate the world, don't lose sight of who you are in all your quirky glory. I am one of a generation of "lost girls" who went unidentified until my late 40s. All the signs were there, but nobody was looking for them and nobody knew how to connect the dots. The sensory overload, processing difficulties and social deficits went unaddressed because I was verbal and bright. I didn't fit their limited idea of autism. Eventually I learned to mimic social speech, though it was always a second language that I never felt confident in. I did my best to use my intellect and observational skills to try to navigate and understand the neurotypical world and its inhabitants, with mixed success. I found ways to create structure for myself and manage my sensory overload. But I never understood what made me different until I was identified and later diagnosed. Knowing my diagnosis was the greatest relief I have ever felt. After spending a lifetime knowing I was completely different from my peers and feeling that every instinct I possessed was somehow flawed and wrong, to understand that I was autistic was a revelation. While I am still unpacking a deep grief at the years where I felt isolated and misunderstood, I have a sense of hope for the future because I now understand how my brain works. Early identification and diagnosis are so important. I think I missed out on a lot of opportunities in life and had a lot of pain from relationship difficulties that might have been different if I had better self-understanding and supports. I spent decades struggling to try to figure myself and others out, never knowing why certain things that came naturally to others were difficult for me to grasp. I didn't fit in and had no idea why. Better late than never, I have found the answer to the question I have been pondering for as long as I can remember, and I have found my tribe. Autism isn't something to be ashamed of or fear. It is a neurological difference in the way I perceive, process, and engage with the world. It is an intrinsic part of who I am as a human being and it does not make me less than. I am in no way broken or incomplete. Along with the challenges, I have strengths and talents and a unique perspective. I can love and be loved. I am a nurse, a mother, a wife, a daughter...and I am not a lost girl any more


  1. Wow simlar to me I 48 and also dinosed 8 years ago I have raised 3 children with help from my mum. I not a nurse but I did care for my mum who had alzhermers. My routine life helped keep her going at home till I could not cope with other issues but thanks for sharing x

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