Today’s story comes from Līga in Latvia.
He was very shy, did not like to be around strangers or most of other kids … Then my friend from Ireland told me that her boy was diagnosed with ASD. I was in shock and told her – “No way! He is just like my kid!”
Līga’s Story: About my self-diagnosis
I come from Latvia, a country where out of 1.7 million only 300 people are officially diagnosed with autism. No adults. I am a mother of 3 boys.
My older one started school last year, he is very talkative, loves company, does not like to play alone. After a few months in school he started struggling, became increasingly anxious, started having tantrums etc. We were in shock. No one could explain what was happening. We were told it is bad parenting.
I was also starting to get worried about preparing my second son for school. He was always a bit different than his peers – he was very shy, did not like to be around strangers or most of other kids, would hide under furniture or lie on the ground in the middle of the supermarket, he could play alone with a pile of sticks or his cars for hours. But I did not make much of it – because I was the same when I was little.
Then my friend from Ireland told me that her boy was diagnosed with ASD. I was in shock and told her – “No way! He is just like my kid!” And it made me think – he really was just like my kid. I started reading. And when something interests me, I read a lot – books, research papers, blogs, websites. And binge-watch anything I can find on YouTube. The more I found out about autism, the more I noticed that part of the symptoms apply to my oldest kid as well – difficulty understanding boundaries, clumsiness, familiarity, fears, struggling with sports and music lessons. Previously all I knew about autism, was based on the movie “Mercury Rising” – I imagined autistic people to be robot-like. I was so wrong.
It also made me think about myself and others in my family – we have the same traits. I was taken out of kindergarten because I would cry for weeks, I hated school, I am still unable to communicate for about an hour after coming home from work – I need down time. If I work with a lot of people, I tend to go into a separate room and lie on the ground to get my strength back, I fall asleep if I have to sit still and listen to someone – I need to fidget, move or knit, I am unable to understand a lecture, if there is background noise, I am so tired after going grocery shopping that I need to take a nap, I have been close to fainting in places full of people. It all started to make sense. Previously I was afraid I have a rare disease that causes my fatigue. Now I understand that fatigue depends on the kind of activity I am doing and the level of noise and number of people around me.
We found one of handful of people in my country, who have a clue about ASD and both my oldest boys were officially diagnosed. There is no doubt in my mind, they are not the only ones in our household. I have not sought official diagnosis, because it is practically impossible where I live and an online test is enough for me.
How it made me feel – it changed over time – at first I was shocked, depressed, afraid for the future of my kids, then the knowledge that I am the same and I managed to get a good education, find a job, have a family, calmed me down a bit. Knowing helps me – because I can adjust my environment more, so I am more productive, but it also makes me doubt myself more – can I take this on, will I be able to cope, can I have more kids, if we are all on the spectrum? Then again – I do not see it as a disorder. Immediately after the diagnosis, all I could see were faults, now – now I see something unique and wonderful, first in my kids, and then also in me.