I've never been employed. I think I would need a lot of close assistance on the job because I am prone to confusion and meltdowns. I would really like to open my own cattery or work in an existing one.
Some people find it quite surprising to know that I'm very educated in geography. It wouldn't surprise autistics, but neurotypicals would be impressed with my knowledge.
My biggest accomplishment so far was getting my driver’s license! Though I need somebody in the car with me when driving, this is a very big step for me, and it feels amazing.
I have had to make big changes for myself in order to function; sunglasses to and noise-canceling headphones to shield my eyes and ears. I wish body language and eye contact were not as important during job interviews and that children were not expected to be born neurotypical.
My Mum has told me that she suspected I was on the spectrum from a very young age, though I wasn't diagnosed until I was an adult. My delayed speech, poor balance, and overall motor skills were big signs, and I was very awkward as a kid and teenager. I didn't get speech therapy because I was not diagnosed until I was an adult, but I do get mental health support now. My social cutoff was thirteen. I was also diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder at this time, and I had trouble understanding people unless there was no background noise. I had frequent meltdowns and my parents didn't understand it.
I have just opened a neurodiversity blog with hopes that it will educate others about neurodiversity. I wish neurotypicals understood that autism is not a scale, rather it is a big, colourful spectrum that depends on the individual. Just because I was deemed “more functioning” and “clever” does not mean I don’t require help a lot of the time. I can’t be myself in public, have frequent meltdowns, engage in self-harming behaviour. However, I am verbal, can hold eye contact for short periods of a time and present neurotypical for the most part. I believe that functioning labels are harmful and that we do not need or want a cure.
I was in denial about my diagnosis at first. I believed that it was this terrible thing that needed to be eradicated. I believe this was due to a lack of understanding of the condition. I later began connecting with other autistic people and began to feel good about myself. I love who I am and wouldn’t change my neurotype for anything. I want other autistics to know and understand that their lives are worth every achievement, meltdown, and struggle. Some days are going to be super tough but try to remember that there will be other days where you feel empowered and inspired. I feel relieved that I am not alone and that I can finally stop masking.
Funny story about me: When I was around the age of twelve, my family and I went to the local park for a day out and I decided to bring along my skates and a clipboard with paper. I was fairly social at that age, and I took it upon myself to skate around the park with my clipboard to ask all of these strangers whether or not they litter. I don’t know why I was so fixated on that certain issue at the age, but my family brings it up today and we still have a good laugh about it.