Wednesday, May 29, 2019

I am currently 27 years old, and though I’ve lived in quite a few different states, I lived in North Carolina as a child, so I like to say that’s where I’m from.
I am a stay at home mom for my daughter, I love it but am also studying so I can have a career in web development on the side.
Some people may not know how empathetic I am. When looking at and conversing with me, I’m told I come across as rude and disconnected. What people don’t realize is, I care deeply about what they’re saying, and pick up easily on how others are feeling. Anyone who knows about my autism might find this as a shock since autistics “lack empathy”, an idea that is widely inaccurate.
Other than raising my daughter, which seems like the obvious answer, my biggest accomplishment is my art. Drawing/painting has been the one thing that I’ve stuck with over the years. All other hobbies and interests I have struggled to stick with after a certain point, whether it stems from fear of failure or a sudden lack of interest. I love that there will always be aspects that I can improve on with art, and a feeling of pride when a piece is completed. In the current environment of politics, religion, poverty, and the many social issues, I wish I could stand up on a soap box and tell everyone to practice understanding one another. I think a small ounce of listening and trying to understand and appreciate one another, no matter which side of what you’re on, would greatly change the world for the better.
Mental health is one such subject I wish people would try to understand. All of the awareness about autism, and its sometimes co-morbid mental health issues, and I feel like we aren’t getting very far. One thing I wish neurotypicals understood about autism is that we aren’t less. We don’t need sympathy, we don’t need others speaking for us, and we don’t need people telling us how we should act to make them feel more comfortable. We need for NT’s to listen to us, adults and children alike. We need them to understand (Really, Actually understand) that being different isn’t bad. Autism is a gift, it lets us see the world uniquely, and I’m tired of being told I’m wrong when I let go and show people a small part of who I am. I can recount so many occasions as a young girl where my autism shone through. I took everything literally. One time, at a restaurant with my family and some relatives, I broke into a meltdown (which for me, consists of crying uncontrollably) because an uncle teased that I would have to pay for everyones’ dinner if I didn’t finish my desert. I couldn’t finish it and the cold sweats started in as I surveyed how many people were at the table that I had to pay for, and how I was only ten and didn’t even own a wallet. I still can’t eat strawberry shortcake from the stress of it all, though now I look back on situations like that and find them hilarious. To everyone else, I was gullible and naive as a child. But knowing now that Im autistic, moments like the restaurant really fall into place and make sense. Something I wish I could say to everyone else on the spectrum is to stop comparing one another. We are all in this together. We live our lives being compared (usually as the “wrong” side of the comparison) to NT’s, so I feel it’s only natural that we compare ourselves to everyone else with autism too. After all, it’s what we’ve learned to do. But imagine a world where if nothing else, even when NT’s don’t understand us, we can come together and be there for one another. Yes, some of us have a significantly harder time navigating the world than the next autistic. Instead of saying or thinking “I have it worse, therefore I am More autistic” or “I have it worse, therefore I am Less of a valuable person”, let others know you’re there for them through their struggles, or that you need someone to lean on. To listen, or even to speak for them, to be their voice if they don’t have one. Things certainly don’t have to be, and aren’t naturally, “kumbaya” all the time, but if we could come together as one solid voice, we have a much better chance at getting NT’s to listen and understand us better. I think of a world where autistic children can live as themselves and flourish in who they are, not who NT’s think they should be. That change starts with us, within our own community. I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was 25. Autism was at first such a far away concept to me. I didn’t understand what it was and my only experience with it, via few people in my life and the media, were white males who all acted with the stereotypical autistic characteristics (I’m sure everyone knows what Im talking about).
The thought that I could be autistic never occurred to me until I was in my 20s. I don’t remember the specific moment when autism sparked something in me, it was more of a slow burn. As I accidentally learned more tidbits and symptoms of autism, I found myself relating to them, but never actually put the two and two together. It wasn’t until someone said to me, “Maybe you’re autistic.” that something clicked. So began my new “special interest” of autism research that took over all of my free time. Everything made sense. Stimming, primarily as a child. Being non-verbal until I was almost four. My inability to connect with others, especially people calling me “apathetic”, “monotone”, and “rude”. My absolute obsession for a subject when I found it at all compelling. My sensitivities to light, textures, smells, and hearing my mom tell me I would always cry as I was a baby and it was sunny. My pickiness towards food. The list goes on and on. Im still remembering and discovering characteristics of mine that continue to add to the puzzle, and I feel like that will never stop. All of the obstacles Ive faced throughout my life I feel aren’t so different from others on the spectrum. The general feeling of being misunderstood. Bitterly laughing to myself when I see or hear something that says “Be yourself!”. Of all the obstacles Ive faced in my life, both the ones I’ve succeeded in overcoming and those I’ve failed miserably at, the one that I still struggle with to this day is to be myself. After spending my life trying to mold myself into what others want, and masking my own self, I struggle to even know who I am. My autism diagnosis was the first step, and I hope one day I really will be able to be me, unapologetically me. I hope all of us can be.

I'm 26, I live in Dundee in Scotland. But I have moved around a lot in my past. I work as a public cleaner in a hotel, and have a new job as kitchen staff in a cafe in a hotel. It's too much working two jobs, but I plan on working in the kitchen full time if things plan out okay. It's a lot to handle but it will help me get to where I want to be in life as I start college this year. Something someone might be surprised to know about me is that I got an A for my singing exam in high school when I was 16. And I was going to try to write my own songs but lacked the confidence.
My biggest accomplishment thus far is that I completed a ten week course called "Survive and Thrive", and have almost completed another six months of therapy. All in all I've worked for about a year on myself emotionally.. To recover from my abusive past. I've changed a lot, and because of that I am ready for college this year. I'm proud of me.. For doing that and continuing to do so.

I want to help kids and teens who have given up on themselves because nobody is there for them.. Help them live the life they love... I want to use my love of writing to help people. But.. I also want to be my truest self.. Without being afraid or hiding or mimicking.. I wish I could just be me.. Without fearing what people will think..or feel. I wish Neurotypicals knew that We, Autistic individuals, are not all the same. You can't label us like items in a shop.. Were like a rainbow.. We are part of the same rainbow but different shades and colours... Not everyone is a little bit autistic.. You either are or you are not.. You can't just.. Assume you understand because you read an article or worked with some people who have autism.... We don't choose to be the way we are.. It's not a choice or decision... Yes we can change but.. It's really hard to express what it can feel like to live with autism.... We are not a broken science project.. We don't need to be fixed.. We just need to be seen and listened to. Were different.. We need to be believed in and seen as different in a good way.. Not a bad! I am on one part of the spectrum.. Someone else Is on another.. I may be verbal and they may not be... Buy that doesn't mean you understand us both because I can explain it one way and they can't... Don't box us and see us as broken and bad. Just.. Accept us for who we are.. Maybe then it would be easier for us to accept and understand ourselves too. I wish that.. People wouldn't fear and judge what was different.. It's nobodies fault nobody is wrong... Were just what we are. You can't change it.
What I want to tell fellow autistic's is that you are amazing! Life is hard and communication/connection is sometimes awful and scary.. Feels impossible. Sometimes life feels impossible but your amazing and you can do anything!! You matter you are special and you are amazing! I was never tested or diagnosed as a child.. I struggled a lot because or that. Quite a lot. But I have an incredible therapist.. And learning I can express how I see it.. Feel it.. Sense it... Just.. Getting it out. Has helped me to survive.. And let others see me because I'm starting to see myself. I feel like I could understand myself more now.
It wasn't until I was older that people paid close enough attention to me to realize I wasn't behaving the way I can out of sheer choice. My partner and partners mom noticed quite soon and told me. Just my quirks.. Behaviours.. Reactions. They saw a lot of autism traits in me after first meeting me.
When I was first diagnosed I was angry and denial.. I didn't want to be autistic because it's labelled as such a bad thing.. I wanted it to be wrong.. But the more I listened and read the more I began to see.. For a while I felt cursed.. Like it meant it was true that nobody would ever understand me.. Ever. Now in therapy.. With a psychologist seeing many traits in me.. And on the waiting list to see where-about's I am on the spectrum... I feel more accepting of it... But still struggle at times. Today how I feel about my autism is, In a way I feel afraid.. Because I feel like having autism is seen in such a negative light.. And I don't know how people will view or judge me because of it. And I know certain things may always be a struggle for me. But I'm less angry about it like I used to be.
I've never made a true friend close by because people have never stuck around. Fighting invisible battles everyday that not many fully understand they just read the manual and assume they know.... Wanting to express what I feel and see But struggling so badly I end up saying the opposite. There have been many challenges... Never knowing how to respond.. In a way I feel like my own science experiment now.. Trying to understand myself.. So that maybe perhaps one day I can make sense of everything I feel and so on. In a way I think communication and connection has been something that I've always struggled with.. And what makes it hard is feeling.. Sensing... Thinking so deeply... Everything Is deep with me. I know my autism blesses me in some ways... But in many ways it's only gone to make me feel more alone even when I am surrounded by people. I'm working hard to heal. Learn.. Grow.. With my psychologist.. Self work... Following goals and dreams.. It's hard. But I've seen the changes in myself within the past year... I hope there is more to come in the future.
Something I wanna add.. Is that my diagnosis.. The starting of it through the psychologist At first made me angry because I wanted to believe that one day I'd feel normal and fit into society Now I'm..more prepared for whatever comes back from the screening... Wherever I am on the spectrum will be evidence that.. Despite this condition.. I still keep going and I still keep trying... Even if I don't fit in that should be enough

I’m 23 and live in the Midwest United States.
A random fact about me is when I was little, I used to sort my beanie babies into herbivores and carnivores. I used to be in a D.D.S. program until I realized I couldn’t reconcile the career with my autism symptoms. The bright lights, the loud noises, and most of all, the knowledge I could cause another person pain were too much for me. I dropped out after two semesters, took the GRE, and am currently enrolled in a M.A. program in speech-language pathology. I am so excited to be in a field where I feel comfortable, knowledgeable and able to help people like me as well as learn communication skills for myself. My biggest sensory trigger is food, which surprises some people. I do not eat wet and cold foods, period. The sensory experience is just too much for me. So I’m really picky about things like temperature and texture, but not flavors or spices.
Signs I show that I am autistic: I always stim, either by moving my feet, chewing my cheeks, playing with my hair, or biting my cuticles. I also tend to steer conversations toward topics I am comfortable with. I get very anxious at uncertainty
My biggest accomplishment is becoming self-sufficient. I never thought I would be able to support myself but here I am! I want to build a world by and for neurodiverse people.
I want those who are Neurotypical to know that . No two autistic people are alike - we’re on a spectrum! Don’t assume you know something about us because you’ve met one.
To everyone on the spectrum - don’t let the neurotypicals change who you are! You’re amazing and deserve the world, and you are not alone.
Nothing benefited me more than a compassionate therapist who listened to me and my concerns before diagnosing me. When I was diagnosed I was relieved to hear I was autistic. Finally, I wouldn’t have to be incorrectly prescribed SSRIs that did nothing for me. I finally was able to secure testing accommodations at school that allowed me to thrive academically. I was able to use therapeutic methods that I didn’t even realize would have helped me had I not been diagnosed. Today, I’m far more confident now that I have a correct diagnosis. I am able to secure accommodations I need to succeed in school, I get the medicine I need to manage symptoms, and I can pursue my strengths with renewed confidence.
Not having a diagnosis was horrible during my teenage years, as like many young women, I was thrown in the “depression” pile without reason. My developing mind was prescribed potent hormones and psychotropics at age 14 that permanently altered my brain chemistry. It wasn’t until getting correctly diagnosed that I finally found a drug that works for me. My biggest obstacle in life was getting correctly diagnosed as a woman. For the majority of my school-age years, I was dismissed as being autistic because of my social skills. I had passable social skills because I would simply observe and mimic what my classmates did. So for years I was called “depressed,” when I wasn’t at all.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Anonymous 3


I had a conversation with a caregiver today.

She said, “You have three college degrees and have autism? Not fair. But what is life?”

I replied, “I don’t think so, I don’t see my autism as a bad thing. I see my autism as a strength, I got to lead the way for several doctors to learn more about autism. I got to educate many autism specialists about autism. I get to see the world in a different light compared to most people. I have had many opportunities that people who are not autistic would not ever be able to do. I have a bachelor’s in psychology, another in social work, and a master’s in social work. I now understand the system, and I am more aware of how to make waves in the system. I have had many opportunities to learn more about life and apply my knowledge in order to combat the system and help change the world.”

My caregiver then said, “Good for you. My 37-year-old will never be able to take care of himself. He has never had a single friend. Autism is not a gift to him. Anyone can be diagnosed with autism. It’s not right. Some people should not have that diagnosis.”

I asked her, “Is he happy? Sometimes we see people’s worth simply by accomplishments as how valuable they are, how productive they can be. But isn’t the purpose to challenge oneself in order to not only grow, with not only wisdom and strength, but also happiness? The journey we take as well as the destination is to be happy. One should measure success by happiness! Not by college degrees, marriage, or good job, and so on. Your son is no better nor worse than me with his lack of college degrees, as long as he is happy with his life and with himself.

I am 29. My dad is in the military, so I grew up all over the world. I lived in Japan, Alaska, Hawaii, Germany, and quite a few different states. I was born in Texas and I have family there, so I consider that to be home. 

My biggest accomplishment has to be either my two daughters, or going back to school this past year, to work towards becoming a physical therapist. Being a mom has been incredibly rewarding. It has been hard at times, but I really wouldn’t trade it for anything. Going back to school has always been on my “to-do list,” now that my youngest daughter is in school, I have the time to do it. After spending 10 years out of school, this has been an adventure, but I know it will be worth it. 

The most obvious sign that others noticed was that I really have a difficult time with eye contact. I have tried many different things to work on it, it was actually one of the first things that my therapist worked with me on. Nothing seems to stick though. Empathy is another problem for me. Some situations are hard for me to understand how others feel, or if I am able to understand it, I can’t express it. 
Routines are HUGE for me as well, I never realized how much they affected my life until I was diagnosed. 

When I first was diagnosed I felt:
I was confused at first, I hadn’t really heard too much about it. After doing some research, it really explains so many things about me, and I am much more comfortable with it. I am still learning more about it, and how to make accommodations for some of the different things I do, instead of trying to change it. 

I was only diagnosed within the past month, so I am still learning more about the different traits and challenges and benefits. 

Growing up, I had a really difficult time making new friends. I thought it was because I moved so much, and had to start over so often. When I did make friends, I tended to have one good friend, and any other friendship was very superficial. I had no idea that wasn’t how everybody else was. As an adult, I had the same problem. Not being in school, or forced to be around people all day, made the problem more obvious. When I was at work, I had no idea to make small talk with my coworkers, so I kept to myself. 

My husband is in the military, so I still move around quite frequently. He has been in for 9 years, and we have moved to 6 different places, not including the local moves that we did while at some of the duty stations. 
The older I got, the more difficult my social anxiety became. A little over two years ago, I was at a pretty low place. We were living in Texas, while it wasn’t “home” where my family was, I LOVED the area. Despite that, the only people I knew, were my husband and my daughters. I barely left the house. I had such a hard time even going out to community events with my family. My mom recommended that I speak to somebody about my anxiety. It was then that I was told I had anxiety and depression. I wasn’t able to get in to see a psychiatrist or therapist in Texas, because we were about to move to Maryland.

After speaking with a therapist for a while, and seeing a psychiatrist to test different medications, I was diagnosed with Aspergers. While on the outside, things haven’t changed, the way I think about nearly everything, has changed completely. I approach things in a totally different way, and I make more of an effort to be kinder to myself if things don’t happen the way I intend. 

The fact that my family moved around so much, probably had a huge impact on getting a diagnosis. With clinics or hospitals on military bases, you don’t always see the same doctor for every visit. I very rarely saw any doctor more than once. It made it difficult to have any kind of follow through for anything. 
The more I moved around, the more I started to imitate my classmates mannerisms, and behaviors so that I could fit in better. I liked to be alone, I loved to read, and I had my own interests that weren’t the same as other kids my age. I was made fun of for being different. So, I behaved how I thought I was supposed to. That continued all the way through schooling, and my adult life, until I got my diagnosis recently.

I'm 36 and from the south burbs of Chicago.

I am quirky. (Or weird 💁‍♀️)
I have a strange sense of humor.
I am a bearer of random, mostly useless, medical facts.
I love true crime. Especially serial killers
I am an artist and pretend to be a photographer. 

I am hypersensitive to EVERYTHING. Sounds. Smells (I almost never breathe out of my nose as basically every smell is offensive to me. Even pleasant ones.) Touch. (No jeans ever. No tags. I can feel every seam in every piece of clothing in an almost electrical way.) Feelings. (I can feel a person's feelings when they walk into the room in an almost physical way.) 
I am awkward. Af. 
I am very very very clumsy.
I don't like change.
I don't like hugs. Or touching really, for that matter. 😬
I am anxious. 

I wait tables at a tiny Italian restaurant. I like it a lot. I have a nice little script going and I love my boss and and co-workers. 

A few days before Thanksgiving, my boss turned to me and said, "I can't believe the Holidays are here already."

I stood there thinking for like 20 seconds and finally asked, "Are they someone from your town or...?" As I thought she was talking about customers or friends with the last name Holiday. Ha.

She laughed, "No, Silly . The HOLIDAYS. Like thanksgiving...Christmas...

Facepalm. Ha. 

Not very many people know that I have Asperger's & I'd like to change my anxiety. It's debilitating. Well, my anxiety and extreme need for consistency is likely my biggest struggle. I have managed to recently get on an airplane and take a spontaneous family vacation with the help of my boss and that shows me that there is a chance of overcoming the worst parts of my anxiety which is pretty damned comforting.

Several years ago I began seeing a therapist. It was my first one in several years as I just couldn't find "the one." I liked this one. I was pregnant with my now almost 4 year old son and my anxiety was at an all-time high. At the end of the fourth session, she asked me if I had ever been diagnosed with Asperger's. I literally laughed and never went back. I was incredibly uneducated on the subject at the time. I had this very stereotypical view of Asperger's and Autism. I had zero idea of how different women with Asperger's can present. 

Fast forward 2 1/2 years. I finally found another therapist to help me with the debilitating anxiety and sensory issues. 

After our third session, she handed me the book Aspergirls and told me to read it so we could talk about it at our next session.

I read the first 50 pages that night and felt something I'd never really felt before. I could relate to the stories so hard. It was like an epiphany. 

I was formally diagnosed a few months later. 

My biggest accomplishments thus far? 
Having kids is a sensory explosion and I feel as if I am accomplishing "momming" quite well (NOT PERFECT OR EVEN CLOSE TO BEING BUT...) even though it is often very difficult. 

I wish others knew that the fact that I can make appropriate eye contact most of the time, enjoy concerts, social gatherings, and am mostly able to mask very well does not mean I cannot be on the spectrum. The spectrum is wide and as a child I learned fairly quickly how to study those around me and act accordingly as a way to cope with being unfiltered, awkward and clumsy.

All of the resources around me caters only to children and adolescents. Other than a great therapist, I have had no other resources. 
Something that does help me is CBT and exposure therapy. I have learned many breathing exercises and grounding techniques that help me with panic attacks. 

I would like others on the spectrum to know that they are not the only quirky, very awkward, super hearing, super smelling, super sensing, special interest obsessing, kick ass person out there. They're not alone. 

I wasn't diagnosed as a child because I presented as an awkward, clumsy, anxious girl that threw ridiculous fits about clothes and would rudely correct adults on their grammar. I liked to line up and read dictionaries, encyclopedias and my Mom's nursing textbooks for fun, so I was just kinda geeky. I could make eye contact even though it was hard for me to follow a conversation when I was trying so hard to make appropriate eye contact. I was just "different." 
And honestly, I never would have thought I was either if it wasn't for that book about other women just like me. 

Tldr: 1.I'm 36 and was formally diagnosed with Asperger's or what is now known as Level 1 ASD last year. 

Best accomplishment is actually being an almost good mom. Most of the time. Despite my sensory issues and debilitating anxiety. 

I wish others knew that a lot of the time women present differently than men and the stereotypical view of Autism. 

Nothing around here for adults other than trying to find a therapist who specializes in autistic adults. CBT and exposure has benefited me pretty well.

Random Entry from November

I was riding in a Uber on my way to work. My driver started small talk & asked me about my job. I mentioned I worked with people who are autistic.

My driver said: Oh, autistic, children? 

Me: also autistic adolescents & adults. 

Driver: There’s Autistic adolescents & adults? Really? So there’s no cure? Well that’s unfortunate. 

Me: is it unfortunate? I don’t think it is, and yes, you just don’t grow out of it. 

Driver: I just thought there was medication for it or there was some form of treatment that could get rid of it. 

Me: Do you know what autism is? 

Driver: Not really, I am a bit ignorant on the subject. 

Me: do you want to learn about it? 

Driver: Sure, we have 20 minutes. 

Me: well for starters I’m autistic.

Driver: Oh really? Did you pass high school? 

Me: I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Does that answer your question? 

Driver: Oh, I’m sorry. So What is autism exactly? 

Me: *explains how it’s brain development. Vaccines accusation is fake. Every person is unique* blah blah. He asked a bunch of other stuff & I explained it further with the amount of time I had.


I told my co-workers about it & they were shocked that I didn’t slap my driver for their rudeness. 

I thought about why I was un-phased by their blatant ignorance & why I immediately went to just educating them instead of being upset. 

The reason is, I’m used to it. I’m used to explaining to ignorant people what autism is. I’m used to being doubted & looked down upon for being autistic by people who don’t know a thing about me. That driver wasn’t the first, and they are not the last. 

I don’t blame them for being ignorant & being rude, they were clueless. Sometimes it feels like their is a million different mental disabilities that’s constantly being updated with new research. I get it, it’s hard to keep up sometimes. However, that’s no excuse to take an opportunity to teach others & to take an opportunity to learn something new

30 yrs old, 

biggest accomplishment is graduating college. 

I wish others took time to understand Autism. 

social skills group was helpful

Random Journal Entry

At first today was like any other Monday, I called an Uber to take me to work. My Uber driver was an old man well in retirement age. We had a small chat about the recent weather & then he asked me what I did for a living. I told him I work with people who are autistic. He made a comment of something a long the lines of “that must be hard work & really exhausting.” I quickly responded with “You assume that I am working with low functioning autistic people. That’s not true at all. Not all of us are either low functioning or Modern day Rain Man.” He responded with “Oh I know, my was a wife a school teacher. We had a blind student who was also autistic. He was so great at piano & he never had a lesson. “

After his story I then responded with “Well, I’m autistic.” He looked over at me in disbelief. He then asked me a bunch of questions. One of them being “What makes you autistic? How does one be autistic?” I explained to him how my brain was developed differently but I’m just like everyone else otherwise. He then said “Well how do you know your brain is developed differently? I never felt I had anything wrong with my brain.” I laughed and said “Neither do I. I never physically felt any different than you. Could you ever feel like you were growing when you were a kid ? I didn’t.” He then looked at me confused and asked “Then how does one know their autistic?” I struggled with this question a little. I then tried to explain how I knew I was different because I see the world differently. It’s like we live in the same world but I have a small see through veil over me that I can’t take off. I interpret things differently yet I am living in the same environment with the same encounters of those who are not autistic. I know you can’t see my veil & I know others who are not autistic can’t see it. How? They tell me constantly that I’m wrong or I see everything wrong because it’s not their way. That really baffled him & confused him more.. So I tried to explain it in a more bland logical way that I have a communication barriers with others. I explained to him how I also struggle with filtering my words & I am more sensitive to sensory stuff but not all of us are like that.

I felt like he had more questions, but my destination was near & I had to point him to which building was mine. He thanked me for the intriguing conversation & told me to have a nice day.

It was a 35 minute drive but it felt longer..

-Allison Knight 

47 years old and from England.

I have two daughters and I am proud of both of them. They are both decent and kind human beings.

I wish neurotypicals knew that even if we can't show emotion or understand others emotions that it doesn't mean we don't have emotions.

In the UK we have NAS ( National Autism Society ) cards which I use a lot in stressful situation to help other understand that I'm not being aggressive I'm just really direct.

What I want to tell others who are autistic is that one should find the people who accept you for who you are, they are out there. Don't try to be the person others want you to be because you can't. You're you, with all your good traits and your bad and that's who you will be all your life.

I am 36 years old and live in Loveland, Ohio.

 I’m a stay at home dad and have a part time job for extra toy money. I love it!

A surprising fact about me is that I’m a decorated Marine Corps veteran that fought in Fallujah.

My biggest accomplishment so far is the relationship that I have with my wife and kids. Even on the worst days I would rather walk through this world with them than alone.

I believe the only way to change the world is to first change yourself. I want the world to be loving and accepting so I work to make myself more loving and accepting.

The only thing I have to tell neurotypicals we don’t need to fixed we need to be accepted for who we are “warts and all.” Autism is just a different way of experiencing this thing we call reality. Different doesn't mean disabled.

Many things have helped me through life. In a weird way Marine Corps boot camp is just an intense 3 month ABA session. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. Completing that really showed me how much personal power I possess. These days I manage sensory issues with medication and meditation. For the gap in executive functioning I have posters that I made around my house with schedules and “how to” directions.

The most awkward and kind of funny story I have is how I got fired from my first job as a grocery bagger. An especially annoying customer was telling me where to place each item as it came down the conveyer and I got really frustrated. I snapped at her “Lady I don’t stand at the foot of the bed and tell you how to do your job!” I was, rightfully, let go on the spot.

The advice I would give other autistics is your health, mental and physical, is an experiment with a sample size of one. Not every therapy will work but some of the therapy that is most effective might be the most difficult. Keep a journal of what works and what doesn’t. You have to track the results.

There were a lot of red flags that my parents missed but my wife picked up on that point to me being autistic. I have a very structured routine and woe be to the creature that disturbs it. I also have an obsession with Batman. Not comic books in general but everything Batman. I repeat words and phrases that catch my attention. I stim constantly.

I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 32. It was a few months after my daughter was diagnosed at age 4. I took her diagnosis better than I took my own. Because of the dangerous misinformation from groups like Autism Speaks I felt that it was too late for me to ever be okay. It threw me into a terrible depression.

It took some time and work but I finally did get to okay. I love my autism. Everything I have done and can do, which is a lot, is because of my autism. I have found that the positives far out way the negatives, and the negatives are easily overcome with mindfulness.

Growing up in the christofascist midwest of America with undiagnosed autism made me an accidental rebel. My childhood proved the old saying “the nail that stands tallest gets hammered hardest.” I developed very low self esteem and began to self medicate. By the time I was in college I developed a heavy drug and alcohol addiction. I did not know that the self harm I was inclined towards in my dark moments were meltdowns. All I knew was that I hated how they felt and would do anything to stop from feeling that way again. That led to several, thankfully unsuccessful, suicide attempts. 

I have had a few obstacles to overcome in life. I had an absent alcoholic father, and a mother who switched back and forth from outright physical and emotional abuse to total neglect. I also had an older brother going through a rough time of it as well who would take his rage out on me. To deal with the pain of this I self medicated with alcohol and drugs. I eventually “ran away” to the Marines. That was literally jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. It was there that I saw the true face of humanity and it is terrifyingly ugly.

I eventually got to the point where I thought I couldn’t take it anymore. Facing a terrible choice I realized that I had to not kill myself but kill my ego. I didn’t have to be the best I just had to be me and that would be more than enough. I would not say that I have overcome my obstacles. I am overcoming my obstacles. It is a process that begins again everyday. I stopped asking myself “can I do this” and started telling myself “you are doing this.”

I was diagnosed when I was 30 with autism and adhd.
I was happy because when I was young I was so different to other kids I would spend all the time on my own I did not like crowds noise
In the class room I did not fit in I could not understand what the teacher was saying and did not like the lights and the sound of the clock and the blackboard
I was never good at PE I was very clumsy and fall over my own feet and could not see a ball when then to me if I was in trouble at home or in school.i never understood what I did wrong I got anxious worried and would hurt myself
I did not start talking until I was 7 and I was delegated in all areas In my childhood autism was not heard of At school I got badly bullied by pupils and teachers and also at home
I always liked routine if it broke I would have melt downs As an adult my sensory diet is using rompa sensory equipment and headphones for out side and I have a weighted blanket and a squeeze jacket also weighted teddy bears I also use aromatherapy oils like lavender
My adhd makes me say things that comes straight out my mouth and gets me in trouble and very hyperactive Even when my body is tired I find I don't feel pain people say you cut yourself and I don't know I did it or feel it.

I feel rain hurts me and wind hurts me. I do keep myself isolated so people won't laugh at me and I see people as monsters. I find crossing the road hard because I can't see the cars propley

I find reading and writing hard as letters jump out at me I use yellow paper to look at word

Sunday, May 12, 2019

My name is Sam Farmer and I'm a 27-year-old white male. I was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin on October 21, 1991 and then I moved to Michigan, which was to help me talk and walk. Then my family and I moved to Spencer County, Indiana, and that is where we pretty much have been since.

I face my challenges each and every single day - what might be easy for you might be hard for me, such as reading a book and remembering what was in the book, or being able to take the words from your head and put them on paper. That might be easy for you but I can’t do it. That is just one of the many things I'm going to share with you in this story of my life, because I want you to see it through my eyes.

I want to say the biggest accomplishment I have made is that I have learned how to walk and talk. I didn’t know how to walk until I was almost 7 years old and I did not talk in full sentences until about 6 ½ years old. The other big accomplishment that I feel that I have made is I've gotten my driver's license, which is huge for someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Spectrum parents may never dream of letting their kid, who is now an adult, go and live the life that he wants to live, which is on his own with partial assistance. That's every parent's wish, that their child is independent.

If you have diabetes you have severe problems, but with autism you don't know how bad it is until you are in that person's body. It's like if you had congestive heart failure - I don't know how bad it is - I don't know how you feel. Unless I'm living in that body I can feel for you but I can't feel what you are feeling.

Autism is more common in men or boys, and they are also a lot more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. With that being said, when you have autism, the best way to describe it is, it's like you are a piece of Flubber. The term I always like to use is my skin just isn't fitting right and it feels like someone unzipped it off my body and  took it off. But, they didn’t put it back on the right way and they forgot to zip it back up.

With that being said, all of our senses, like our taste or smell or feel or touch - it's like our senses are on steroids - they are just like out of this world. The last thing I want people to think is that if we have autism it's something to be used as a crutch. You're talking to somebody that does have it, so in my eyes it's like if you were talking to someone that had diabetes or another real medical problem.

I sometimes think that parents use the diagnosis too much to shelter their kid away from society and then when kids grow up they want them to be in society, and then they fail. I want parents and everybody to know it’s okay to be a different type of person because if we were all the same,  life would be so boring!

I use a lot of resources in my day-to-day life. I have a person that helps me with my money so I don't get taken advantage of, I utilize public transportation until I can buy myself a car, and I also am a good advocate for myself. I am my own guardian and am independent. I was first diagnosed on the spectrum at age 2 ½.

I hope to be a friend to someone else with autism, more so a guy than a girl, to see if I can break down any of the walls that their parents just can't understand. If you have any ideas let me know. I feel like my mother thought there was something wrong with me because I would have outbursts and wake up crying. I would flap my hands and bang my head every single day.

I tried to never live in denial because the more you live in denial the worse it's going to be for you. Remember - you only have one life so live it to the fullest.


  I am 46, and I am Canadian, born and living in Ontario.

            I have been many things over the years:
                        - Food service in Hospitals
                        - Cashier
                        - Parent to two autistic kids (D-19 & S-22)
                        - Foster Parent to special needs infants
                        - Nanny
                        - Daycare Owner & Carer
                        - Education Assistant, Autism Speciality
I am currently on Disability supports (ODSP), and trying to finish a degree at Ryerson University, at the School of Disability Studies.  Our current government cut grants for low income (definition of disabled incomes) students this year, so my education is ‘on hold’.

I love the ‘helping professions’ as my ^ list suggests.
I am very patient and I love to teach.
I am very good at being an EA. 
Unfortunately, school boards do not support autistic employees very well; I burnt out as an EA in 3.5 years, despite asking for supports. 
Which is why I entered Disability Studies @ Ryerson.
My hope was to get a degree that would allow me to work towards establishing better disability employment policy in Ontario & Canada.

 Something someone might be surprised to know about me is that
      I can be very social under the right circumstances, and in the right environment.
Many people think me ‘reserved’ as a 1st impression, and they stop being interested in finding out who I really am. 
I have had 40 years of struggle with social interaction. 
I am very anxious and need to take time to assess and ‘feel out’ new people and new situations.  I don’t want to make mistakes, I’m very allergic to social faux pas.

Anyone who has had such a long history of social faux pas, and social anxiety, that an undiagnosed Aspies does, would not be surprised. 
My whole life before dx was one of constant judgement and recrimination from people who saw me as broken, lazy, a whiner, liar, etc.
Forty years of that takes a toll, and makes you careful about trusting new people. 
Neurotypicals lie constantly, with white lies and social posturing, and that’s very hard to negotiate as an autistic person.  It takes time to work out whether a new person is genuine or fake or trustworthy.  That’s the reservation.

In my opinion some of my biggest accomplishments are
    raising happy, healthy autistic kids to adulthood, despite being judged, being gaslit, & being threatened by people who assumed they knew better than me, particularly my abusive x-husband and his family.  I divorced when my kids were young, before the dx of any of us.
My kids were dx’d later, my son at 10 years, then my daughter at 9 years. 
I wasn’t dx’d until almost a decade after them.

My ability to understand my kids from infancy, and my willingness to defend them (based on my own similar experiences as a child), kept them from experiencing as much harsh judgement for their differences and challenges.
Even when I couldn’t ‘accurately’ label their challenges in the medical-diagnostic sense, I could stand up and say,

“My child is being bullied, and it isn’t their fault.  They are being targeted by the children who claim that my child hurt them. 
What did those children do to my child to drive my child to that behaviour?
Where was the teacher in the 10-30 minutes before my child ‘acted out’?  Because my child will always back away from confrontation, back and back and back, until they are cornered or they get away.  If they have been cornered and are being assaulted (verbally, physically, emotionally), they have a right to fight back.  My child never starts these things, but if desperate enough, my child will defend themselves, As They Should.”

By reframing the narrative, I forced Teachers, Principals, and the parents of the bullies to address the real problem:
Poorly educated/parented kids will target children who are different, and the poorly educated adults around them often support the bullies and victim blame the victim.
Not my kids, not on my watch.

I wish those who are Neurotypicals would understand about autism is
            That we are not broken NTs. 
We are Autistic, and our ways of learning, expressing emotions, and coping with life are valid.  Our differences are strengths, if society lets them be strengths.  Yes, autistic childhood can be difficult, but forcing NT behaviour on us is not the solution.  Creating autism friendly environments for home, school and work means that we can participate fully in life, and do so competently.

There are other ways of training life & learning skills that do not compromise personal autonomy the way ABA and other compliance training systems do.  Consent and personal autonomy, the right to say “NO”, when we are in pain, struggling with learning, or when our ways of being are not being respected is very important.

            I was dx’d at 40 years old. 
What they meant for me was self acceptance and a vocabulary to explain myself to others.  It meant that when I went back to college at 40, I got supports and accommodations for the 1st time in my life.  I graduated with honours because my learning needs were supported, after a lifetime of failure and being blamed as lazy:

                        “You’re smart.  You aren’t living up to your potential!”

(If I had 10 cents for every time I heard that before dx, I’d be a millionaire.)

However, that support did not transfer to the workplace.  So, despite loving my EA work, I burnt out in 3.5 years; my physical and mental health deteriorated until I ended up on disability support (ODSP). 
I am grateful that I qualified for ODSP, and it took a lot of time and help from my GP to get it because the paperwork is designed to make it very hard to successfully apply.
I am slowly recovering my health now that I am not working in a toxic environment anymore.
I decided that a degree in Disability Studies would lead to a career in shaping Disability Policy, to work to support all the disabled citizens of Ontario & Canada to maintain employment.
Unfortunately, the current Provincial Government has axed the grants that allowed me to go to university.  They are now gutting ODSP, and my family is being impacted.
It’s very depressing.

Mental Health in Ontario and Canada is not properly addressed or funded to start with, and whatever therapies and services are available, are tailored to NT neurology.  I have been sent for all sorts of therapies and groups over the years and very little that was, and is, available works for me. 
Why?  Because I’m not NT.
Autistic social anxiety, or autistic depression, come from very different experiences and from autistic neurology.
NT treatments and solutions often don’t work for autistics.

 My whole extended family got a diagnosis when my 1st child was dx’d.  

All his life, people had been saying that ‘he is just like you’, but with my family learning about ASD, they began to see that it wasn’t just me and my kids, its the whole
xtended family. 

I’m the only one of my generation with an ASD dx, but plenty others of my generation and of my parents’ generation have social anxiety dx’s. 
Plenty of us are ‘weird’ or ‘eccentric’ or ‘funny-peculiar’. :)

I love my dx. 
I love having a vocabulary to express myself with, and to share my experiences
I love not being ‘wrong’ or ‘broken’ or ‘bad’ or ‘lazy’;

I am autistic, and I recognise my strengths and work with them, whilst balancing my weaknesses; there’s no shame in being me anymore.