(this is a trick question! )
What was it like to grow up with autism and not know about it?
What is it like to be autistic as an adult without knowing?
What is it like to be autistic?
The answer is going to be different for every single one of us!
I have been very interested to follow several forums for autistic adults. It is amazing that through the diverse ways we are equipped to face our world and the diverse ways we grew up, many of us identify very strongly with experiences we faced as children, young adults, and elders. I am amazed at the times somebody will relate experiences I have had in various forms too. I am amazed at the times somebody relates struggles that I identify with, incidents from the past, social struggles in daily living, ways they have found to improvise, adapt, and yes -to overcome certain problems presented by the way we either function or don’t function neurologically.
I have to tell you that very many times I do not identify at all with other autistic person’s struggles.
So many times I will read about somebody in a situation or with certain problems and my mind just draws a blank. I can understand how and why they are struggling, but it is something I might never have experienced or even thought about other people experiencing.
This does not mean I do not empathize with their struggles, just that the things they are relating are not now or never have been an experience I have had.
We all have neurological differences, but what many people do not seem to understand is that autism does not work the same in all of us.
“My son is autistic and does/has/is X,X,X – you are not like that at all. You can’t be autistic! “
This one was from a doctor ” You have held a job, you have a family, are married and have children, you are aware that you have been bullied all your life. You are not autistic, people with autism do none of those things”
“Autistic people are not able to learn things”, “Autistic people always X, X, X. ( I use the X to represent examples people give, which can be anything at all)
“Autistic people don’t look you in the eye”
“Autistic people X, X, X.” Well some of us do and some of us don’t, and some of us might, and some of us never have and never will.
Autism is as individual to each person and their life experience as neurotypical or average non autistic people’s life experiences are.
What all autistic people do have in common is “different” neurological processing. This can take so many forms and be so varied from person to person it is amazing that autism is finally being recognized and sorted out, defined and understood. It is not at all what the majority of people seem to believe it is!
I look forward to the day I no longer hear and see and experience other peoples’ advice and information regarding their “autism is” fixed ideas and concepts, and I hope that day comes soon.