Saturday, April 20, 2019

26 & from Canada.

I think professionally my biggest accomplishment is starting a business, and personally it would be maintaining several close friendships.

What I want others to know who are not autistic is that even if I don't "seem autistic" all the time, there are things I struggle with which are invisible, and I had many difficulties growing up. Also, the idea that autistic people don't have empathy is a myth, I do experience empathy, I just don't always know how to read NTs emotions because I experience emotion a little differently, and I don't always know the proper way to express empathy even if I feel it inside.

I didn't have many special resources growing up but I did appreciate the social skills group that I attended in my teens, mainly because it was the first time I was in a group of other autistics and I didn't feel so out of place. I also appreciated that in high school I was allowed to leave class without asking to walk in the halls because sometimes classrooms were overwhelming. I didn't realize it at the time but in retrospect most kids would get detention for walking out of class like that so I think they let me do it because they knew I was autistic and I wasn't just ditching class.

To kids who are autistic I would say, while it may sound cliché, it gets better. It really does. You may be bullied and ridiculed and even abused and I know, I've been there, it's horrible and it can feel like you'll never escape. I can't promise life will ever be "easy", but when you finish school you can go do your own thing, find your own group of people who share your interests and appreciate you, find an occupation where you enjoy what you do and can use your talents.

To adults who are autistic I would say, it can be tempting sometimes to go to one extreme or the other of either feeling worthless or feeling like autistics are some kind of hyper-evolved humans. I think both these attitudes can be destructive in their own way, ultimately autism is just a different way of thinking and processing information, and every autistic person is unique and perfect in their own way, so don't worry about what society thinks of you, just do what makes you happy.

I was diagnosed when I was 14-15 after my school referred me to a psychiatrist. I always knew I was somehow "different", even when I was 3 in preschool I remember feeling like I couldn't quite interact with the other kids in the way that they did amongst each other. All through elementary school I was bullied and ostracized, I had meltdowns, I struggled understanding instructions in class, and teachers commented on how I never seemed to "fit in". My mum noticed from a young age that I didn't make eye contact, didn't respond to my name, liked repetitive movements, didn't interact much with others, and did echolalia, palilalia and scripting. I feel like if I were growing up today I would be diagnosed much younger, but in the 90s people weren't as aware of the existence of "high functioning" autism, and I generally did well academically in school despite the social and behaviour issues, so my teachers didn't see the need for any intervention. I guess the difference in high school was that it became more obvious how I wasn't developing the same way as my peers. I started struggling academically because the teaching structure changed, and I had trouble with organization, planning and understanding the consequences of my actions

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