I received an adult diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) a few years ago. I suspected I had autism for many years, but I didn’t want to be labelled, so never sought diagnosis until my life hit a point where I felt it was the only way I would get the help and support I needed.
Growing up I had always been different to others around me including my three brothers. My mum described me as a little scientist. As a child I was generally quiet, I tried to keep away from people, I would often do things alone rather than with others. My dad was concerned about me saying that he thought something was wrong with me, but found it difficult to put into words and be taken seriously about his concerns. He was concerned about many things including that I didn’t seem to know how to play, and I didn’t seem to be able to use reciprocal communication unless told to do so. Back in the 1980’s his concerns were dismissed. Mum said from birth I never liked being hugged, and would never hug back if I was cuddled, I didn’t have any issues walking away from mum to go into nursery school, even on my first day. She described how I walked straight in without looking back or acknowledging her, whereas my three brothers all got upset and distressed at leaving their mother on their first day of school.
Mum had tried to organise a birthday party for me when I was about 5 years old, but no-one attended. This apparently didn’t particularly bother me, but bothered mum.
I rarely felt a need to speak out, I kept myself to myself, so through school I was largely ignored. As long as everything was predictable and as I wanted, things went fine in school, but if anyone tried to do anything like giving me the bumps or jumping on me I would do whatever I had to do to make myself feel comfortable again. I didn’t care what extent of violence I would have to use, or who I would have to be violent to. If I was unable to escape the situation without violence I would do whatever I had to do to feel comfortable again. I was very stubborn, because I hate change I would refuse to do things when change occurred. This continued into my working life. When I started work I would walk out of the job if they made changes to my work situation. I wouldn’t think about the consequences of this, all I would be thinking is that I am not happy with the situation, so I need to leave the situation to feel comfortable again. I would be blunt with managers telling them when they are making stupid decisions, and telling them to shut up when they are not listening.
In my early twenties I started working in mental health, and then moved into working in children’s homes before moving into family support work where I was supporting those with autism and their parents and carers. Colleagues would often comment on how I was like the autistic people we supported, and as time went by I considered that I might be on the autistic spectrum. I never considered seeking a diagnosis because I didn’t like the idea of having a label, until workplace discrimination which I had faced in many jobs I had done, reached a point where I felt helpless and trapped, and I became depressed to the point where I wrote a date in my phone that I would kill myself because that seemed like the logical solution for resolving my situation. It was at this point I decided to seek diagnosis, feeling that it could lead to me getting the support I need to help improve my work situation. The diagnosis has been more beneficial for me than I could ever have imagined, it has helped others around me understand me better, it has helped me be more open about myself with others, and it has allowed me to help others through talks and writing my book Look Into My Eyes.
Look Into My Eyes: http://apn.to/prod/1542551196 (Link directs people to their local Amazon website. The book is also available from other retailers as an ebook (Kindle, iBookstore, Kobo, Nook, GooglePlay, etc) and paperback (retail paperback edition ISBN: 978-1326917340)