Autism and Me
Okay, so a lot of people have their own viewpoints on what autism actually is, and a lot of these opinions are media based. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder, and has many different factors, including but not limited to, social interaction, communication (both verbal and non-verbal), intellectual capacity and repetitive behaviours. When people hear autism, they typically think of Rainman, Sheldon Cooper, or the highly intelligent, quiet person at school that is socially awkward. That is autism, but that isn’t solely what it is.
I was diagnosed a few months ago with high-functioning autism. This basically means that I’m able to communicate to a degree, although I find it difficult, and I struggle picking up on a lot of different social cues, and struggle in some social situations. I do have a higher IQ than a lot of people my age, and I have some extreme obsessions, namely with music. It’s my strongest passion. Mention George Ezra or Lewis Capaldi and I could talk for hours with no issues.
It took 17 years for me to actually be diagnosed, because first of all, I’m a girl. There are so many differences between boys and girls being diagnosed. Boys display autism differently from girls. It’s so much harder to receive a correct diagnosis as a girl, often being told that it’s “typical girl behaviour” because of our obsessions, or social awkwardness and that all girls do it. I showed behaviours from a young age, but was told “I’ll grow out of it.” I didn’t. Fast forward to age 15, I was receiving some help for my anxiety when I was asked about my thoughts on Autism, and if I thought I maybe had it. At first, I was in denial, going off the stereotypes. I did some research, and deliberated for a while. It makes so much sense. I went through a test called an ADOS, which is used to help diagnose autism in children and young people, and a week later I was given a diagnosis.
I’ve found over the past few months, when I tell people about autism, or have seen other things on social media, there are a lot of misconceptions and people jump to conclusions. I want to address a few of these.
“You don’t look autistic.” This is probably one of the worst things that you can say to someone who has been diagnosed. There isn’t a set look when you’re autistic, it’s not like we have 3 eyes or a horn coming out of our heads. “Oh my god you must be so smart can you do my homework?” No. I’m not doing your maths homework. Or your science homework. I’m hopeless at both, they’re not my thing at all. “Are you sure you’re autistic? You don’t act like it?” This is one of the more annoying ones, where people look taken aback because you’re actually able to engage in conversation. “Don’t you have those ear defenders things?” Nope, I like to joke about it with close friends, but I can actually process a lot of sensory things. They’re helpful, but I’m not reliant on them.
Now this one is even more annoying, but people try to compare me to another autistic person they know. “Oh but my friend's cousin's sister is autistic and she’s non-verbal.” Okay? It’s called a SPECTRUM. Where everyone is completely different. This also means it isn’t just a straight line, with non-verbals at one end, and high functioning, maths geniuses at the other. It’s so much more complex than that. No two autistics are the same.
So, I hope I helped with some of the misconceptions. For any autistics, or those waiting to be diagnosed, if you ever want help, I’d highly recommend looking at the National Autistic Society’s website. They have a lot of information, and in some areas, they even have support groups, which I personally think could be brilliant!
It is not uncommon to gaze off into the distance when distracted or deep into thought. At times, our surroundings may seem blurry and noises may become quiet as we sink into our mind. However in some cases, if one feels themselves disconnecting frequently or for long periods of time, it may not be typical. The difference between simply daydreaming and dissociation is that dissociation is the lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, and one’s identity. This includes feeling detached from your environment and the people around you. This can include feeling emotionally numb and light-headed.
So why do some people dissociate? There are many reasons as to why one may disconnect. The majority of the time, it is a response to trauma, including memories of the trauma. However, it can also be a sign of mental exhaustion. Dissociation can last anywhere from hours to weeks, and can be a symptom of a mental disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, PTSD, etc. Dissociation might also occur more often if one is not getting enough sleep, food, or water. Another common time when one may dissociate can be during a breakdown. One may find themself crying and hurting emotionally one moment and then suddenly stop. It may appear as though they are doing better but in reality, they have become mentally exhausted and dissociate to subconsciously attempt to “leave” the breakdown.
I have experienced periods of dissociation on multiple occasions, struggling to bring myself out of it. Although these periods did not last more than a couple hours, they were challenging to deal with while trying to focus on school, or any other task I would have to complete. After dealing with short periods of dissociation, I then experienced longer periods of dissociation, that would last weeks or even months. Although I was still able to complete my daily tasks, it made simple tasks much more challenging. At times, it would feel as though I was in a dream rather than reality and I would have a difficult time feeling anything emotionally or critically thinking.
Although it is challenging to focus when one is dissociated, there are ways to aid in stopping it. First, it is important to make sure that you are sleeping and eating enough as lacking to do so may cause one to dissociate more frequently. If you or a loved one experiences dissociation that is a symptom of a mental disorder or a traumatic event, therapy could greatly aid in addressing the struggles and therefore stopping dissociation. Similar to when having a panic attack, it is also important to use your five senses. Naming three things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
https://batonrougebehavioral.com/5-tips-to-handle-a-dissociative-disorder/ (Gives tips on how to handle dissociation)
isn't it ironic
Being alone is a bit hard and a bit sad. I have noticed that when you are alone every problem in your life is somehow causing more pain than ever. I have noticed that being alone, especially at school, is tiring. I thought being alone would be easy until being alone meant feeling lonely even when thousands of people are surrounding me. I want to say that it will get better. But I somehow have been alone for 5 years. I know of people and they know of me but when I am sad or happy I have no one to tell. When I want to rant, I see myself in the mirror as the only option. I see people getting called by friends, lovers, and family and yet I am the one calling others. I have heard that I am a person who loves risky. Loving risky means loving someone more than they would ever love you. I realised with time that being alone has clear consequences and benefits:
Consequences aka cons:
I put my attention into getting busy. I made playlists for every emotion I could possibly have. My life is eating, exercising, studying, sleeping, reading and working. I don’t have fun because it has never been an option for me. I realize again being alone for sometime meant becoming a boring person. I honestly think my situation is a bit ironic. I am a high school student who has never done high school things. I have an ability of carrying high expectations while being remarkably pessimistic and sarcastic.
I’m trying to tell you what and how you shouldn’t be. Live your life as if you would die the next day. I can’t tell you I remember a lot of my recent life that wasn’t overwhelmed by work. There were summers that I wished to be back in school. There were times even when school was my sanctuary because life is not that fun when you are a solo warrior. We are not all solo warriors. I believe there are many people with friends; having one or two good friends is all that matters.
Honestly I can say for myself that this article is a rant. A rant I can’t tell anyone because I don’t trust anyone enough for them to understand. This is my experience while growing up. I am hopeful that yours is completely different and happier. But you never know, 5 years from now I could be the happiest woman alive.
(717)394-2000 - Emotional listening support line
1-877-870-4673 -The Samaritans HelpLine