Monday, July 6, 2015

My Journey With Autism

I had this blanket as a child that I called Woobie that had lace trim with satin ribbon running through it.  When I rubbed that satin ribbon between my forefinger and thumb, it was as if my whole existence shrunk down to a pinpoint. All the noise and chaos in my body was drowned out by that feeling.

When I was 8 years old I was diagnosed with Non-Verbal Learning Disability. When my mom asked the doctor what that meant, he replied that it was why I was such a freak. Over the course of my life I've been misdiagnosed with a lot of mental health and behavioral conditions but Non-Verbal Learning Disability, while wrong, was actually closer to the truth than most.

I was an extremely unusual child that didn't fit in in any social setting including my own home and school. I couldn't read body language at all so I missed those subtle clues that people were starting to get upset with me, or that posture that would have let me know that that person was annoyed and I shouldn't go up to them in such an upbeat and effusive manner. At that point of my life though, I didn't know that I was missing social skills. I just knew that I was being bullied and had no friends.
It wasn't until much later in life when I realized I had no social skills and I tried to teach myself body language that I started to put the pieces together.

You see, while there are books teaching people how to read body language, apparently that skill is inherent, or at least, it's supposed to be. But when I tried to find books to learn social skills as an adult? Almost impossible. And the more I looked, the more books I found for certain adults, so I finally checked out one of them, specifically "Be Different" by John Elder Robison. When I read that book everything made sense.

When I met with my psychiatrist the following week, I told her I thought I had Asperger's Syndrome. She asked me why I thought so and when I got half way through my reasoning, she stopped me and said, "yes." I asked her if I needed to take a test. She said there was no need and she didn't know why she hadn't seen it before.

I'm IsaJennie and I'm Autistic. I'm on the Autism spectrum. I don't want to be cured. Autism makes me who I am. My brain is different. It functions in a spectacularly complex way that neurotypical people cannot fathom and it is wonderful. What I want to "cure" is the way I am treated by neurotypical people. I want to make the world easier to live in for Autistic people.

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