Friday, March 1, 2019

I'm 54. I was born in Falkirk, grew up in Cumbernauld and the Isle of Bute, lived in West Yorkshire since 1996.

My biggest accomplishment is I think just being able to function in society and passing for normal, if somewhat eccentric. When I was in my 20s I was a basket case, I was undiagnosed and lived from anxiety attack to meltdown to anxiety attack, apparently without a cause that the mental health professionals could pin point. Life was bordering on impossible to manage. I progressed because I was determined to not be like that and I slowly developed coping strategies. It took 30+ years to get where I am now. I mask and can "pass" but it's hard work. I've just got very good at it.

I wish neurotypicals understood how subtle and how devastating the characteristics of autism can be. People think "Rain Man" - let's see you count the toothpicks. Life can be utterly exhausting and overwhelming, at the same time we find joy and wonder in things NTs miss.

I'd tell youngsters who are autistic to hang on in there. It DOES get easier. You DO learn, slowly but surely over the years, you get good at it. Your confidence grows. The older you get the less fitting in matters. And nowadays people are alot more tolerant of people that are a bit different, more people are aware of A.S.
In my year at school there were at least 3 autistic girls including me. We were all invisible. Nowadays kids are out and proud. It's still an uphill battle but it's tons better than it was.

I've never had any resources. What has helped is learning to fess up to having difficulties. It has taken til relatively recently to learn to put my hand up and tell people about processing difficulties and ask to be cut some slack or for help. A huge help to me has been Facebook pages for autism. Especially a page for older women. Many of us have late diagnoses and battled through under our own steam. The school system and society in general in the 70s and 80s was not a friendly place for autistic females so we can talk about it amongst ourselves, often discovering 30 years too late that we were not alone. It's strangely comforting.

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