My experience with autism

Greetings, my name is in the title and I’m the daughter of Rebecca Smith (Glutarama) who has asked me to share my experience being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

So, this post will consist of what I have dealt with before and after my diagnosis.

Oh goodness, where to start?

Well I’ve always had social and communication problems, but never anything to explain or link them to, which can be troubling to say the least.

Usually, when school and family label somebody as antisocial and, for lack of a better term, ‘a social outcast’ there tends to be a feeling of disparage. The terms used to describe antisocial behaviour are so commonly used to make people (especially teens) feel dejected and almost guilty in some cases that they act more as insults than labels.

However, for me that has never been the case. I have been described as antisocial; I mostly avoid large gatherings as I lack the ability to ‘read the room’, but I never let that insult or deter me as I simply couldn’t and can’t understand what’s so wrong about it.

A common sign or symptom of autism is the lack of empathy or ability to pick up on other people’s emotions unless they are specifically expressed.

This, I believe, is what has rewarded me the descriptions of “brutally honest” as well as “daringly humorous” in regards to my constant jests at the expense of others.

This is a trait I happen to share with my brother, though unlike him I choose to filter my emotions through jokes and casual banter.

In short, all my friends have to be willing to laugh at themselves from time to time.

I have found that, due to the absence of basic human empathy, I can come across as offensive, intrusive and disrespectful, which is one of many reasons I attempt to make people laugh in situation that I feel could have them upset with me.

 

Diagnosis

Now, on the subject of diagnosis I have limited experience, having only been diagnosed recently and suddenly.

This means that in the last few weeks I have been stringing together events or past actions/ reactions, that I can now link to my having autism.

The diagnosis has indeed helped me to understand myself better; however I have refused to let it change my opinion of myself or anyone else. Simply putting a name to something doesn’t in any way change the reality of it; it’s just blatantly useless information.

If you tell a blind person that they are beautiful they may know more about themselves, but they won’t start looking at mirrors.

I have had many people, therapists, teachers and a friend, that have confronted me about this most recent addition to my many conditions and asked me very bluntly not to use it as an excuse or play the ‘problematic child’ card, and for those people I am most grateful, as this sort of interaction tells me that they know nothing has changed.

Whereas some people seem to think that diagnosed means contracted, and have been treating me like I have a life threatening disease ever since the news got out.

These people are the ones who get under my skin.

I believe that every autistic person has a particular pet hate.

My brother, for example, has always detested arrogance or in his words ‘cockiness’ whilst I can’t stand being patronised or spoken down to.

With this in mind it is no wonder I become overwhelmed in schools or around other children when I’m suddenly the ‘special kid’ and need to be spoken to in syllables or I won’t understand the language people are speaking.

In closing, my experience having autism has been a case of dealing with being the unique ‘brutally honest’ kid and then suddenly having a reason why I’m like this and continuing to be myself because if people are offended by me then I don’t want to be associated with them.