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.
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.