Today’s story is from 29 year old Allison in the U.S.
“We ended up going to gifted schools, him for academics, me for art… I am so thankful I now have an explanation for how we did, and still do struggle.”
I’m a woman who has ASD. My whole life I was considered unique, funny, and creative- sometimes loquacious sometimes shy- by my close friends or family with possibly general anxiety and severe depression.
When I sought psychological care I was told at first that I probably had ADD, borderline personality disorder, or bipolar disorder. I believe this was because of stigmas about my sex even within the psychiatric community. When you have anorexia, can become asocial, have huge meltdowns, with processing problems- and are a woman? People historically have made assumptions.
All I knew, was … I wasn’t fitting in and I didn’t seem to navigate life as well as my peers.
It wasn’t until I age 29 that I was told by my cognitive and neurological scores on testing: I showed a high probability for autism with co-occurring PTSD. I believe this was because of a lack of social knowledge that led me into dangerous situations which I didn’t know how to avoid or handle.
The more I taught myself about generational stigmas, female/male autism, and myths of functionality the more I realized… This isn’t just me who slipped through the cracks, this is also my twin brother.
Growing up, we both had to be “coached” on how to react to Christmas gifts. I had something that was just considered “a nervous tick” with my hands. My brother could read before preschool. My mother gave me lots of instruction in elementary school on looking up at people’s faces because of a tendency to stare at the ground. He hated yams with a passion, and I was in love with eating iceberg lettuce. I would crawl into my sweater during recess and shut out the world. On the bus, I’d try to save my more socially awkward brother from bullying. My parents did the best they could to teach him, but I was definitely better at social mimicry. We both even have common physical ailments associated with ASD.
We ended up going to gifted schools, him for academics, me for art. Now he is a mechanical engineer and my special interest for the past few years has been American Sign Language. I am so drawn to it, my art has almost completely fallen by the wayside.
I am so thankful I now have an explanation for how we did, and still do struggle. I’m so grateful to have newfound support and instruction in a local P.E.E.R.S. group. I need assistance when I get overwhelmed and through advocacy and self research I’m getting it, and hopefully helping my sibling in the process.
If you are a late diagnosed or realized adult …seek out others like you. They are there. You just have to find them. That is why I love the channel Aspergers From the Inside. The visual information and content Paul creates has helped me from the day I saw it. Be proud of yourself or people you know with ASD, or any “disability” for that matter- their perspectives are extremely valuable in innovation and problem solving.