Just over 2 weeks ago I was diagnosed as being autistic. While this wasn’t a huge surprise it still came as a shock. It also explained a lot of things in my life, things that have happened and my reactions to them, things I’ve done and times when I’ve misunderstood what’s going on.
Now I find myself wondering if some incidents in the past have been autism related. For example at work I’ve found myself shouting at my manager twice. Frustration turned into anger and while I knew at the time what was going on, I was powerless to stop it. It was as if I was a spectator. It also wasn’t me. I’m one of the most placid, calm people I know. Of course when those incidents occurred I didn’t know I was autistic.
I hate small talk. Whether in written messages such as emails or instant messages or verbally, I am rubbish at it. I’m also useless at starting a conversation, even with people I know well.
I can’t do subtext. I take everything literally and a former partner had to explain when she was joking or being sarcastic about something. This has a large impact on my life because neurotypicals tend to speak in subtext most of the time, never directly saying what they mean.
Another thing I have issues with is knowing how I feel. This applies to both physical feelings such as hunger, thirst and types of pain as well as emotions. I now know this is an autism thing called Alexithymia. It’s not a diagnosis in itself, it’s more of a symptom. This leads to problems when seeing a physician and they ask what type of pain I’m in; I can’t answer because I simply don’t know.
With the emotion thing, I don’t know how to explain how I feel if someone asks, so I always give the stock answer that I’m ok, even when I’m not, but can’t explain how I am actually feeling.
Eye contact is a very common symptom of autism, and it’s something that I struggle with, when I’m talking with someone face to face I tend to look over one of their shoulders instead of making direct eye contact, which is way too intimate.
I also get very anxious about having to change a routine or an arrangement, for example I have a morning routine and if I get anything in the wrong order it upsets me and makes me ver anxious. If arrangements/plans are changed it causes anxiety. Finally for now, I am rude. Let me explain; I don’t know when to enter a conversation and am tactless, I say things as I see them rather than skirting around the way neurotypicals do.
These are just some of the issues I have and now I have a name and a reason for those. It’s reassuring to know there are a lot of people going through the same issues themselves.
I’ve come to terms with my diagnosis. It is what it is and it makes me, me. Sometimes it causes problems in life but, on the flip side, it also enables me to see things that others miss, to see things differently with a unique perspective. I spot and remember car registration plates and can instantly recall when and where I’ve seen a particular car previously. This isn’t something I “do” as such, it just kinda happens automatically, or autistically, if you will.
Now that I know the cause of so many problems I’ve had in the past, I can move forward with that knowledge and hopefully understand more about my life.
Autism is part of me. My brain is wired differently to the majority of people and that’s ok. I think. I’m only 2 weeks in, I’ll have to come back and revisit this in 2 years maybe.