Tuesday, October 15, 2019
I am 19 and from Queensland, Australia.
I’m actually currently unemployed and have never worked before. I would need somebody by my side to help me as I get confused and meltdown easily. I hope to one day work with cats though! I would love to open my own cattery or work in an existing one. A lot of people find it quite surprising to know that I’m very educated on geography and some fragments of history. This isn’t an overly big deal within the autistic community as we all have our own special interests, but to the non-autistic people who don’t personally know me, they become rather impressed with my extensive knowledge. My biggest accomplishment so far was getting my driver’s license! I need somebody in the car with me when driving but this was a really big step for me personally. It’s still scary and sometimes I can’t believe that I am actually a licensed driver. It feels refreshing and amazing. I would love for the world to be more mindful of autistic and neurodiverse people and to be more accommodating. I have just started to run a blog in the hopes of teaching non-autistic people what it is like to be me and what autistic people want them to know. I have had to make big changes for myself personally so that I am able to function in this allistic-built kingdom; sunglasses to help shield my eyes from the harsh every-day lights and noise-cancelling headphones to provide myself with relief from background and loud noises. I wish body language and eye contact were not as important during job interviews and that children were not expected to be born Neurotypical. 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 behaviours but am verbal, can hold eye contact for short periods of a time and present Neurotypical for the most part. I wish non-autistics knew that functioning labels are harmful and that we do not need or want a cure.
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. Be proud of your neurotype — we are unique individuals with different wants and needs.
My Mum has told me that she suspected I was on the spectrum since a very young age. My delayed speech, poor balance and overall motor skills were big signs. Behaviour wise I was a very shy and awkward kid and teenager. My social cutoff was thirteen. I would fixate on certain subjects but also struggle significantly in school. I was actually diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder at around the age of thirteen and had trouble understanding what people were saying to me. I would only understand clearly if they talked slow and there was no background noise. My meltdowns were frequent and my parents couldn’t understand why I was acting like I was all of the time.
Because I was diagnosed in adulthood, I did not receive a lot of professional help such as speech therapy. I experienced delayed speech as a child but my parents did not want to push for a diagnosis. I was however granted the opportunity to participate in therapy for my mental state and that has helped a lot. As an adult but with my parents’ help I now plan on seeing a hearing specialist for Auditory Processing Disorder, receiving physiotherapy in the hopes to correct my poor posture and then OT. I struggle daily with poor muscle tone which I have discovered a lot of autistics have. 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 pretty social at the age and 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 laugh at me being a dork. At first I absolutely wanted to deny my diagnosis. Before I was educated and enlightened on autism I always thought of it as this terrible thing that needed to be eradicated. I feel more than bad about that now because now I know that autism is not bad and that it’s a different neurotype that can not possibly be cured. I thought a lot of terrible things before my diagnosis and I regret every misconception I had. When I understood what autism was and I connected with other auties I was then relieved with my diagnosis. I now know why I am the way I am and I couldn’t be happier. I love who I am and wouldn’t change my neurotype for anything. Today I feel happy. I feel relieved that I am not alone and that I can finally experience freedom from masking. It is taking me a while.