Hi, I’m Morgan Allgood. Although I didn’t receive a diagnosis until 2014, I knew I wasn’t neurotypical my entire life and suspected autism for nearly a decade. Back in the 1960’s, there wasn’t much information about autism.
As a child, my mother was my main advocate in the educational system; she was more aware of my differences than most parents of the day. When I did not blend well with my peers in first grade, the school system wanted to put me in special education, which at the time was for children with intellectual disabilities. She was correct in her assertion that there was nothing wrong with my intellect, but I do 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 live in a low-income apartment complex for the elderly and mobility impaired, and I have an aide who helps me. It’s not much, but it’s something, and I do my best to hang on to that.
Honestly, there hasn’t been much accomplishment in my life. I haven’t been able to stay employed for a significant amount of time. 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.
It’s hard. I maintain a daily struggle to remember my own self-worth as I deal with the anxiety and depression that goes hand-in-hand with my autism. I have a service dog who helps me with physical tasks, such as walking and picking up things that I drop.
The late diagnosis made things very difficult for me, 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. I believe this 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 had there been early intervention.
What advice do I have for other autistic individuals? I would say to go easier on yourselves and try not to be angry at the neurotypicals in your life. Remember that we all need to meet in the middle to understand and cooperate.