Sunday, November 01, 2015

Life as an Autistic Person Confounds Me and it is Awesome!

Life with autism confounds me, or I should say it used to until I learned I was autistic and suddenly life made sense.

When I was little people were the most confounding creatures. I found my mother illogical and weird, and she found me cold and distant; occasionally mean. I didn't know I was autistic then. I was just me.

When I was little, everything seemed to be as big as the universe. Nothing was ever a little deal. I've since learned that I have hypersensitivity. Things don't just seem a bigger deal to me. They are a bigger deal. But when I was little, everyone just thought I was melodramatic. So it confounded me.

My mom is a pretty good cook. It's a wonder that she has no idea how nice she was to me considering I had no idea why I didn't like food then, either. Sometimes the way food felt in my mouth bothered me. I like peas, but they explode in my mouth, so I don't like peas. I like potatoes, but everytime I'd ever eaten them, they'd come right back up. So food confounded me.

When I was little, little pictures were seen and not heard, so I didn't have privilege of the exposure to adult interactions that little kids get today. The only reason I got to hang around with the adults was because I was enormously shy. I wasn't so shy, I was petrified of children, they were mean, they were loud, and they were violent. So even though there were gads of kids to play with, I far rather'd hang with my Dad. He understood me while the kids confounded me.

When I was little I hated the feeling of clothes touching me. I couldn't stand the tags rubbing against my neck. I got rashes where the clothes touched me and I was constantly covered in rashes. When I was little, I was told, it's soft, it's nice, when I found it picky and itchy. So, clothes confounded me.

Ultimately, I think in being an undiagnosed Aspie, I got lucky. My life unfolded in such a way as I had to learn how to deal with it, because I didn't have any reason to not. I didn't have the luxury of explaining all my little idiosynchracies away as Aspergers Syndrome.

So, I'm going to be 50 on my birthday in December.

Life continues to this day to confound me.

So, here's the bad news.

None of these issues have gone away. I'm just as confounded on a daily basis as I was when I was a child.

The difference now is that I have a diagnosis that explains why I have always felt like I am different...

I am different.

And contrary to what some autism groups suggest, that is not a bad thing. It's just a thing.

In fact, once I'd figured out how to deal with and alleviate these difficulties in my life, I grew up to be a pretty cool person because I'm different.

My parents looked for the special in me and focused on what I was capable of doing, trying never to compare me to other children. So, they didn't really look at my odd milestones and see them as setbacks or savantism, they just saw these wonders of their baby girl growing.

They taught me that I am not my challenges, they are simply issues I have to deal with. I'll never outgrow these challenges, but as I get older, I continually learn new coping skills and mechanisms that make my autism less stressful and confounding.

I'm lucky, most days, I'm pretty calm and function pretty well. But sometimes I can't function well at all. So my life is arranged in such a way as to have the supports I require when I require them. When I can't function... the ball gets picked up and sorted on my behalf until I'm back functioning again. Usually, I'm out for a day maybe two at worst.

And then I pull it back together and life is totally awesome. Until the next challenge hits, like the shingles outbreak that I'm about to endure for the third time in the last five years. Or the illness I will have to deal with tomorrow morning because I had conventionally grown vegetables for dinner. Or because my shirt has gotten so annoying that I've gotten trapped in it trying to get it off. I like to joke that if I bump into three walls before I get out of my bedroom in the morning, I go back to bed.

Being autistic isn't easy somedays, but any day, it's me, and embracing it is a lot better for my sanity than fighting it. So, on bad days, life will most assuredly continue to confound me. On good days, life is awesome.

This blog was written for Autistics Speaking Day 2015.

To raise Autism awareness and Acceptance, and battle negative stereotypes about Autism. To advocate for the inclusion of Autistic people in the community. To offer a forum to broadcast our stories and thoughts, and to help the messages of Autistic people and non-Austistic allies reach as many people as possible.


I invite you to click here to read some of the other blogs that were written in honour of this day.

We share these words so you can know how absolutely awesome people with Autism are, regardless of our challenges.

4 comments:

Angel The Alien said...

Your parents sound like cool people, ahead of their times! Even though people didn't understand much about autism then, it seems like they just appreciated you just the way you were!

Tina Brooks said...

I'm not sure I ever thought of my Mom as cool. I watch her do the best she can with what she has at any given time. It's a lesson I try to remember. Each of us to our ability.

Interestingly, my brother had a very different experience with his Aspergers. He spent the formative years of his childhood dosed up on ritalin and caffeine.

When I asked my mom what it was like raising us, it kinda hurt when she said "your sister was normal". But it was what it was.

The autism fundraisers tend to be more interested in their fundraising than in actually listening to the voices of those of us who are autistic.

Thanks for reading my blog. The link takes you to the Autistics Speaking Day blog. THESE are the stories and presentations of REAL autistic voices.

We are going to own the dialogue if we have to swamp the airwaves to do it. :D

JOSEPH Hvostal said...

I am the mother of two special needs children. My oldest is autistic and my youngest has down syndrome. My middle child is mainstream. I just want to say that I would not change any of my children. .I am closest to my son who is the one diagnosed with autism. I love each of my children but my son is really my love..I will fight and care for him till the day I die..his father left us and I vow to I will never stop caring and he is the reason why I wake up in the morning because I have my own issues with depression. I wish there was more groups for teenagers with autism so they could talk to each other in groups on the computer because it would be easier for him to communicate himself. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

anautismobserver said...

Tina, your blog is currently included on our Actually Autistic Blogs List (anautismobserver.wordpress.com). Please click on the "How do you want your blog listed?" link at the top of that site to personalize your blog’s description.
Thank you.
Judy (An Autism Observer)