September 23rd 2017 marks two years since I received my official autism diagnosis, and my life changed completely. This may seem like a small event for some people, but it’s one of the most important dates of the year for me.
In the first year following my autism diagnosis, I focused a lot on learning about autism and how it related to me. I learnt coping mechanisms from other autistic people, and spoke to them about their experiences. If you want to know more about that part of my life, why not check out my first year review here?
The first year after my diagnosis was about learning what it meant, whereas the second year focused largely on accepting it. (Click to tweet)
It’s been in this last year I’ve realised I need to accept that autism will always have an impact on my life. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on myself or my dreams, but I’ve definitely made them more realistic and autism friendly now. In the past, I hadn’t had to think about limitations so much. I assumed that I would lose the difficulties I had when my mental health improved. However, this diagnosis taught me that that wasn’t going to be the case.
I’ve just turned nineteen, too, which means a lot of my time is spent worrying about and planning my future. The transition into adulthood is hard for many autistic people, which is really reassuring when you worry you’re alone in the way you feel.
Sometimes, though, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been left behind. I often compare myself to being a nineteen-year-old living in a twelve-year-old’s body. I’m friends with people who’re almost two years younger than me and do a lot more than I do. They have jobs, serious relationships and drive, or are learning to do so. I celebrate when I manage to eat a new food, or talk to a professional without the support of a parent.
Although worrying has always been a massive part of my life, and will continue to be, my diagnosis has continued to be a positive thing, too. I’ve learnt more about the things I struggle with and have been able to adapt situations so I’m more comfortable. I now carry a tangle around with me to help me focus or stimulate me when I’m under-stimulated. I’ve also been researching earplugs designed to filter out background noise to help me cope for longer in noisy environments.
I think a lot of the worries I’ve had this year are autism-specific, as opposed to being late diagnosis specific as they were in the first year. A lot of the things I struggle with have been things I would have worried about had I been diagnosed at any age. There’s something comforting in that.
The second year of living with my diagnosis has also provided me with opportunities I never thought I’d have. One of my proudest achievements is featuring in two research studies about autistic people and their lives. One of the reasons I started writing about autism on my blog was to educate others, so it’s nice to know I’m doing that. These research studies are also crucial for improvement in the way autistic people are treated in a medical and social sense, so I’m proud that I could have had a small impact on the outcome of them.
Through blogging, I’ve also had opportunities to share my story with other people’s audiences. I’ve written about my late diagnosis on a fellow Autistic blogger’s site, as well as answering questions on two separate blogs that I would not have had access to before.
Overall, I think my autism diagnosis is a positive thing. There’s every chance this could change when I go out into the world of employment and have to fight discrimination, but I hope I don’t lose my love for such an important part of my identity.
Of course, there are days when I may struggle with certain parts of being autistic, where the anxiety gets so much I wish I could do things others could. I compare myself to neurotypical people far too much, and often forget about the things I can do that they can’t. Who says getting involved in a TV show and watching it obsessively for eighteen hours is a bad thing?
But this is who I am, and no amount of wishing my disability away is going to change that (click to tweet). I’ve given up. This is who I am, and take me or leave me, I’m not changing for anyone.
Thanks for reading, and until next time,