This is a really hard topic for me to talk about, but if I’m going to do it I need to be open and honest. Let’s go.
I’m Autistic. This might come as a suprise to you if you know me well or if we’ve been friends for a short amount of time, and equally I haven’t told you or mentioned it alot. I don’t mention it often, I’m aware it’s considered a disability but I’ve never seen as that as to me it doesn’t hold me back compared to someone in a wheelchair or with cerebal palsy, for example. I mention this as I know both people with these conditions. I’ve seen how this affects them on a daily basis, and holds them back alot more than I think. I count myself lucky however, because I know people which autism affects their life much more than me. I’m lucky that I’m independent, I’ve become more independent recently and it doesn’t stop me going out, seeing my friends or having a job, usually I don’t notice it. I have completed and passed 2 apprenticeship courses now and i can say it barely affected me over the duration of both courses. The exceptions where only when meeting new people or doing something I hadn’t done before, but this was out of fear, and with both instances the end result was good and I gained new skills through each project that was out of my comfort zone.
I looked up the definition of autism or autistic spectrum disorder as it’s most commonly known and it’s full title, and the definition given is this: “a mental condition present from early childhood characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.” Now I know that can sound like a long description and to me is abit of a mouthful myself understanding that, and this is a Wikipedia description which isn’t always reliable, but to me that sums up what this condition is best. In my words I would say something along the lines of: A condition that affects a part of the brain, making it harder for the affected person or individual to form relationships, communicate how they are feeling, communicating with others, particularly new people but even people they know well.” Sometimes I find it intimidating/difficult/hard/challenging to talk to people I’ve known for years, and as hard as meeting someone new. I could tell you of many occasions I’ve found it hard to talk to my parents, close friends and even my sister, about how I’m feeling as I find it hard to describe it sometimes, not always knowing which words to use to explain.
The National Autistic Society are a great resource and information source to find out more about autisim, they work with loads of people with autism and work on promoting the good things about autistic people. Their definition of autistic spectrum disorder is “a life-long disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.” This I can defintley relate to and is probably best summed up in these two sentences.
Another way autism is showing emotion, I can really struggle with this and my facial expressions don’t always show how I’m really feeling and I can sometimes cover up how I’m really feeling. I see it in two ways: I’m either really honest and my face says it all or I’m not showing what I really feel. I know this can confuse people who aren’t sure what i’m really feeling, and it can annoy me sometimes as I wish i could change that!
The best way I can describe it is this: Some days I can forget I have it, and some days I am all too aware. On those days I really struggle, can cry at the smallest thing and it can affect my emotions, going from happy to sad fairly quickly.
I still don’t feel i’m fully equipped with the knowledge about the condition myself, I was diagnosed when I was 3/4 but I don’t have a specific bit of paper to prove to people or define that I am autistic, which can make it hard sometimes. It’s because of this that I recently decided to do my own research into the condition and the science/history behind it. I ordered a few books off of Amazon to read up on, I’ve watched a few programmes on autism and involving autistic people as everyone on the spectrum is different, so I can find out even more about it. I would recommend a book called “Women and Girls with Autistic Spectrum Disorder” by Sarah Hendrickx, she’s an autistic woman herself but has an interesting story as she wasn’t diagnosed until her late adult years. She works with autistic people with her own skills and training company, and is also on her own journey to discover more on the condition. I’m only a quarter of a way through so far but it’s not a massive book and it’s really interesting. (Well i find it interesting anyway)
I don’t really know what I want to achieve from writing all this down but i just wanted to have it all written down somewhere that I could look back on, refer to if necessary, and hopefully explain to people that don’t know much about autism to be able to find out more and do their own research into it.
If you have any questions on something I maybe haven’t talked about in this particular post then do leave your question in a comment below and I’ll get back to you. I’m going to be doing an Autism Q and A style post soon so look out and if you have any questions to add to that then leave them below also.
Thankyou for reading,