It’s All About Perspective

Being highly functioning Autistic in a world of neurotypical people, means that I do not fit into a certain mold. The way my brain works is unconventional compared to the rest of the world. Even before my Autism diagnosis, I felt out of place. Different. Like I just didn’t belong in this world. It’s even more complicated when I seem completely “normal”. I have often been told I have an attitude by people who don’t know me. Or, people just think I’m really quiet and reserved or even shy. And that’s probably the biggest struggle of being so high on the Spectrum. No one suspects that I am any different than they are. I suppose that’s the way it is with anyone with “invisible” disabilities. It’s almost an ignorance. A silent discrimination that just because someone seems so “normal” doesn’t mean that they are not struggling with something.

Anyway, back to my original thought. People, I’ve noticed, don’t like things that are different. Mention the word Autism to someone and they go silent. People don’t want to hear about it. They may or may not have heard about Autism and if they have, they are scared of the word. They are surprised when I tell them I am Autistic. People, when they do this, make me feel as if I am not accepted because I don’t fit into the mold of the world. 

But, God tells me that He allows me to have Autism and that He has a very special purpose just for me. You see, I not only stand out in the world because I have Autism, I stand out because I’m also a Christian. So, in a way, I really was not created for this world. Perhaps, God created me with Autism to give me a visual picture that I was made for another world. I’m only on earth temporarily. My real home is in heaven.

I wish People Could See

This is a little different format than I usually write. I was tired and was having a particular difficult day at work. I was frustrated in my interactions with people and I just started writing this poem in my mind. By the end of the work day, I had written this poem in the Notes app on my phone. In the poem I talk about the frustrations of having High Functioning Autism. I look and act completely “normal” but inside I’m struggling. For those of you not on the Spectrum, I hope this’ll give you some insight. And for those of you on the Spectrum, do my words also resonate with you?

I wish people could see

That it’s hard but I’m trying.

I wish people could see

That I’m smart but I think visually.

I wish people could see

That I’m trying my best to be kind and respectful but speaking with grace is difficult for me.

I wish people could see

That I am funny and witty but I process things slower.

I wish people could see

That I have special needs but I am no more special than they.

I am who God made me to be.

But people can’t see.

Because people don’t understand.

Loyal to a Fault

One thing I’ve read about Autsim, is that people on the Spectrum tend to be loyal. I find this true of myself. If I’m your friend, I mean it. I’m either all in or out. I’m the type of friend you can rely on. The difficult part is, I expect my friends to feel the same way. Sometimes it hurts because I think I’m friends with someone, and maybe I am, but their definition of friendship is different. I like friends I can be goofy with but also have serious deep conversations. I need friends that I can share personal details with, and someone who will tell me when I’m wrong. 

It’s not just friendships, however. I like to really think about something and when I commit, you’ve got me one hundred percent. I want to wait until I’m absolutely sure before making a decision. And it bugs me a lot when others don’t do the same. My parents used to tell me how responsible I was when I was younger. Perhaps this is the reason. Or, maybe their comments about me being responsible influenced me to be who I am today. Either way, my loyalty and commitment can be a good thing. I suppose I should expect less of others to avoid getting hurt or angry or frustrated. Or, perhaps I should focus on obeying God. I need to remind myself of this often because I am such a people pleaser. I need to refocus and become a God pleaser. 

Alone

Someone once told me that the word Autism means “alone”. I’m not sure if this is true but it certainly does describe life on the Autism Spectrum. Being on the spectrum myself, I feel isolated from the outside world. Sure, I can communicate with others, but I struggle to fully  connect with other human beings. I’ve heard that having Autism is like being an alien from another planet. We are so different yet we are the same. We are human beings with basic needs like everyone else, our brains are just wired differently.

The thing is, I like being alone. It’s quiet and calming. I’m very independent. I actually feel more lonely and alone when I’m with other people at unstructured social events, like church or a party. A couple months ago, I was going through a difficult situation. I had injured myself and was unable to do even simple house cleaning. I communicated my needs with a couple specific people. They were aware of my situation and wanted to help but somehow the communication amongst themselves wasn’t clear and I didn’t get the help I really needed. At the time, I thought I had done something wrong because I know that I do not always notice subtle social cues. I felt very much alone. Like an outcast. Again, it was my difficulty to connect with others. However, I now know that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t do anything wrong. That trial is over and I’ve since moved on. It still hurts, sure. But I just remind myself that no one intentionally ignored me. Maybe I still need to pray for God’s help to forgive.

My Story

I would like to briefly share my story with you. I didn’t know I had Autism until I was in my late twenties. Growing up, I always felt differently. I was labeled with words like “shy” and “slow”. When I was in early elementary school, doctors thought I had Tourette Syndrome. Whether or not I was actually diagnosed, I don’t know. Years later, when I was in college, I was really struggling to stay focused on my homework. It took me an extremely long time to do my homework. This was nothing new to me, as homework also took me a long time to complete in high school. The difference was, that college was way more intense. Anyway, my roommate noticed some signs in me and suggested that I might have ADD. I asked my mom to take me to get tested and I officially received my diagnoses as having ADD.

After college, I really struggled to find and keep a job. Finally, with lots of prayer and guidance, I moved across the country to live with my aunt and uncle. It was there, that I went into a program that assists people with disabilities find and keep a job. During my time in the program, I had to get re-evaluated by a psychologist. After several mentally exhausting tests and a meeting (unknownst to me at the time) with family members, I received my Autism diagnosis. Everything just sort of fell into place at that point. The diagnosis actually made sense. It sure explained a lot about my struggles connecting with people and difficulties understanding some things. The funny thing is, I had worked with preschool aged children on the Spectrum during an internship in college. My two uncles both have Autism (though not officially labeled as Autistic). And both of my parents work with students with special needs. I grew up around people who were different. We just never realized I was different too. God’s ways are certainly not our ways. But they are always good.