Autistic Anniversary

Happy anniversary to me!

About this time last year I was finally certain I am autistic.

I joined several online autism groups and began asking questions.

I was amazed as I discovered so many things I struggled with were “like that” because of autism. I am still learning about ways I have been affected, and each time for just a few moments I wonder… what would I have been like, who would I have become, if I had not been autistic?

Other older people have commented that getting a diagnosis nearer the end of your life than the beginning is a shock. Many have compared diagnosis at this age (I was 65 when I first suspected I was autistic, and age 66, when I was certain.) to the grieving process.. Shock, denial, bargaining, grief, anger, acceptance. I have now completed my first full year of knowing my diagnosis. I have gone through that cycle over and over.

It is popular in some autism circles to speak of autism being a gift, or simply another “operating system” rather than a handicap or a disability. I am firmly on the side of its being a disability. I have struggled with too many things in life that would not have been a struggle had I not been autistic.

Painful interactions with others top the list. Had I understood emotions, my own and others, and understood that I causing pain to others, had I understood that any correction or misunderstanding on the part of others was not a mortal mistake and been able to accept that, offer apologies and move on, much suffering of others and my own would never have happened. Perhaps I would have had friends and fewer failed relationships, and not always have been in trouble with people at home, in school, at work. Perhaps estranged family members would not be estranged. Perhaps my first marriage would not have failed. No way of knowing for sure, but perhaps.

I might not have gone through life afraid. I might have gone to college, might have had a profession. Alas, all too late.

The Best thing about finally knowing I am autistic is that now all of that other chaos and pain in life finally makes sense. I finally “get it” and can see how autism has affected every day of my life, and how it still affects me.

The huge difference is that now I can forgive myself and others, now I have a lamp in the darkness, I can see how autism surrounds me and encloses me, and also now, how I can smooth my own path and use new ways to survive and even thrive.

The growth this year in my personal understanding and the relief I have in finally knowing about autism is boundless. So many formerly impossible things are understandable and manageable in context of autism. So much that was perplexing, confusing, frustrating, and depressing is now understood and outcomes of any activity attempted are not presumed to be inevitable failure. What a relief to know about autism and that I have so many “new to me” options and outlooks!

One thought on “Autistic Anniversary

  1. Happy Anniversary Deb! Not only has your revelation ‘turned the light’ on for you, but through your conversations and writings you have also enlightened many of us inside and outside your life. You are one of the most intelligent people I know, and I have no doubt whatsoever that you could have accomplished anything…especially in the scientific world…you chose to do. You are dogged in your determination to find answers to questions that are presented to you, and i feel you would have become a brilliant scientist, researcher, biologist, geologist…the possibilities are endless.

    But that was not meant to be. Autism was not identified or diagnosed when we were growing up. It was not something that was recognised or understood. And I hurt deeply for all those adults out there today and before that have gone through a lifetime of doubt, pain, misunderstanding and abuse. Perhaps that is what was chosen for you as your purpose in life…to be an advocate for all those who have grown up never knowing the ‘answers’, the ‘reasons’, and even the ‘questions’. And also to open the eyes of the people surrounding those with autism. You have certainly opened my eyes, and I will always treasure our friendship!


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