On September 23rd 2015 at 11 in the morning, I received my official autism diagnosis. In the same appointment, I was told I exhibited classic signs of the condition, in my childhood and adolescence. This definitely made me wonder why it took so long to get a diagnosis, but let’s not focus too much on that. I’m glad I got my diagnosis when I did, because for some people, the wait is even longer.
Since my diagnosis a year ago, I’ve been through many emotions when it comes to the way I view my disability.
On the one hand, my diagnosis lead me to meet a whole community of people just like me. As someone who was felt like I didn’t belong anywhere, it felt amazing to finally fit in. I had people there to advise me when I hit a mind-block with my research, or to share things I hadn’t even considered.
However, I won’t say that things have been perfect. There have definitely been moments of resentment and frustration when I realise the things I struggle with are life-long battles. There are fleeting moments when I wish my condition away, but for the most part, I am proud of my disability.
Other than coming to terms with autism itself, I’ve also had to adapt to other people’s opinion, and how much I let them affect me.
Other People’s Perceptions
While I was going through the diagnostic process, and even before, I was constantly told I couldn’t possibly be autistic. Either that, or I had to have ‘mild autism’, and hid it really well.
One comment I remember well came from a professional. I was in year 11, a few months away from my diagnosis, and he said I couldn’t possibly be autistic. He worked with autistic people, who had photographic memories and behaviour problems.
Although I know now that there are many different traits to autism, I let them affect the way I view myself massively at the time. I started thinking I couldn’t possibly be autistic, and viewed the diagnostic process as a waste of time rather than something that would provide me with more answers than I’d had in my life.
Even now I have an official diagnosis to back me up, pretty much everyone I’ve told has expressed their disbelief at the label I’ve been given. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “you don’t look autistic” by people who mean well. Trust me when I say it’s not a compliment.
As well as the judgement from others, I also had to admit to myself that I had limitations that my peers didn’t. I have to plan the days of my week carefully so I don’t get overwhelmed and exhausted, whereas my peers can be spontaneous without a care in the world. If I don’t do this, I’ll find social rules and appearing polite in public impossible, and my natural impulses will take over. The last thing I want to do is appear rude to friends and family.
The one area of my life that hasn’t noticeably changed since my diagnosis is my education. This surprised me considering that, at the time of my diagnosis, my education was the reason it was rushed through in the first place. That’s not to say I don’t struggle with a mainstream college environment, more so that there’s very little that can be done to solve my difficulties. I’m not the most confident person, but I will say my determination is one of the only things carrying me through college at the moment.
The things I’ve mentioned above are just a few of the important, and perhaps surprising, things that have happened to me since I received my diagnosis last year. If I wanted to, I could sit here and write several thousand words on everything that had changed in the last year. However, I think we can all agree that it would be less than interesting. For everyone.
If you do decide to take anything away from this blog post, let it be that autism is not a death sentence. It’s not a negative thing that you have to apologise to me for, like it’s somehow your fault. For the most part, I like the way I am. I love being autistic, and I’m so glad I received a diagnosis that gave me answers I’d been searching for my whole life.
Thanks for reading, and until next time,
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