I was born in 1989, 26 years ago. It’s strange to think that in the 90’s which to me does not feel that long ago, autism wasn’t really looked for or even screened in a lot of children. Parents had to actively look for these things. My problem here is that my parents do not understand autism and I am high functioning, and I think that it may have masked the possibility of their being something wrong.
One of my worst memories from primary school was how I struggled to do a front roll, I didn’t have the co-ordination and my teacher made it in to a spectacle. My teacher would keep saying “just try” every time I wouldn’t be able to do it. So I would get angry and cry out of frustration and then my teacher would tell me to stop being silly and I would be angry for the entire lesson and hit stuff from walls and the floor (not that anyone noticed)
As I moved to Secondary school things didn’t get easier, I knew something wasn’t right with me. One of my narrow interests was Monster films, like Godzilla. I took A Level media studies at 16, it was in this class that my pre-occupation with Godzilla made my teacher say to me “Some people are autistic and they don’t even know it” She confirmed what I had waited for someone to say to me, she herself was the parent of a severely autistic boy. And now my worst fears were coming true, I had something wrong with me and nobody to help me.
For this class we had to create a presentation, on subjects such as violence or disability. She dreaded my presentations, I always insisted on going first, I always had a 20 minute presentation (it was supposed to be 5) I would use lots of obscure video clips, I would use Godzilla in almost every presentation.
When I was 22 I decided to go to the University medical office and tell them that I thought I was dyslexic and autistic and needed to talk to someone, they booked me an appointment and after talking to a disability officer she sent me for both a dyslexia test and an autism assessment.
I arrived an hour early to the test centre, When I got into the room I sat down, the woman began talking to me she asked about my parents and I burst into tears, I couldn’t describe my parents and I was angry and frustrated that I couldn’t do it and that was the turning point for me. I realised that I really needed help, I really needed to understand this part of me.
After an hour the woman stood up and said “its in my opinion that you suffer from Aspergers syndrome”, she then explained Aspergers place on the autism spectrum. Later she sent me a report about what she had learned about me to back up her diagnosis. Suddenly everything made sense, all the things I did that I couldn’t explain, why I became obsessed with TV shows and annoyed everyone with my random trivia facts. Why I could relate almost anything to a pop culture reference.
The report is split into sections, here are some stand out points:
Learned to make eye contact when realised it was expected of her.
Does not seek to share information with others about feelings, health etc
Special Interests and Routines
Rocks when stressed
Has intense preoccupation with films and television
Thinks in black and white
Turns conversations on to topics she is interested in
Does not recognise when others are bored of the conversation
Response to Sensory Stimuli
Does not like the texture of certain foods
Finds noise stressful and distracting, becomes irritated by noise
I then had to do a “Mind in the Eyes” test It’s a test that measures your ability to read another persons emotional state, I got 19 out of 36, (most people would score 25-30) I used a process of elimination, which means i looked at the faces logically instead of using “theory of mind”
In the conclusion it states that the more stressed and anxious I get the more “Aspergers like” I become, that is definitely true.
Being undiagnosed for a huge part of my life was difficult, it meant I did not get the support I needed in school and struggled because of it. I wasn’t learning in an affective way and that caused me many problems as a result of this I didn’t learn to deal with the things that make me more “Aspergers like” It also meant that I never really understood myself until I was 22,
It’s important for people with Aspergers and other Autistic spectrum disorders, to understand themselves as much as possible and for those around them to understand to. So they can help them however possible, I never had that and I think it has affected me negatively. My autism has become the butt of jokes among friends who know about it. Its made me very conscious of what I say and who I say it to. Just last week I told someone a random fact about the sun and they looked at me like “what are you talking about?” So I try not to do it.
I think if I had been diagnosed at an early age I maybe would not have learned to mask my Aspergers, I learnt to hide things because I am very conscious of people making fun of me, but also because sometimes I take sarcasm to heart and I take generalised comments personally and I discovered that expressing that made people angry and I don’t think that’s a good thing. I think I should feel safe expressing the true me. But I don’t, because I have spent more of my life thinking I’m weird and “not right in the head” then knowing that actually I have a diagnosis, and that there is support out there for me and others like me to.
The Elephant in the Room