Sunday, April 14, 2019

My name is Morgan Allgood. I’m a 59 year old autistic woman living in Indianapolis, IN. I did not receive my diagnosis until 2014, although it was largely suspected for close to a decade before that, and the knowledge that I was in some way not neurotypical existed my entire life. But, back in the 1960’s not much was known about autism.

My mother was my main advocate in the educational system as a child, being more aware of my differences than most parents of the day. When I did not blend well with my peers in 1st grade, the school system wanted to put me in special ed, which at the time was for the children with intellectual disabilities. She was adamant, correctly so, that there was nothing wrong with my intellect, but that I learn differently. So, my first and second grade experience was largely being homeschooled by my mother under the guidance of the school psychologist.

My biggest accomplishment was learning to live on my own when my second husband left me for another woman in 2007, a year after I was diagnosed with a neuromuscular condition called adult-onset Friedreich’s Ataxia which is totally unrelated to the autism. I had gone from my parents to my first husband and then from that marriage to my second husband. I mean, yes, I live in low-income apartments for the elderly and mobility impaired and I have an aide that helps me, but I am doing it. It’s not much, but it’s something, and I do my best to hang on to that.

Honestly, there’s not been much accomplishment in my life. I’ve not successfully been employed for any significant length of time at all.I failed at all attempts at college. Both my marriages were adversely affected by my autism as were my parenting skills. I have two adult children, but my daughter has estranged herself and, thus, I have a granddaughter who barely knows me.

Yes, that is hard. I maintain a daily struggle to remember my own self-worth as I deal with the anxiety and depression that go hand-in-hand with my autism. I have a service dog who loves me regardless as he helps me with physical tasks such as walking and picking up things I drop.

Not being diagnosed until a later age made things very difficult, especially with relationships. My first husband was abusive to me and used my behavior as an excuse. Of course, I was more prone to meltdowns as a result with just created a vicious cycle. I also didn’t have the life-skills training that I maybe would have gotten had I been diagnosed as a child. But, you never know. I may have made all the same mistakes and had the same problems even if there had been early intervention.

What advice I have for other autistic individuals? I would say to go easier on yourselves and try to not be angry at the neurotypicals in your life. Remember, we need to meet in the middle with them somehow so NT and autistic both need to try harder to understand and cooperate with each other.

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