I was lucky to have been diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder which is now considered Autism Spectrum Disorder at four years old. I say this as usually, most women and girls that I have met were diagnosed later in life.
I was lucky enough to have parents that were against medicating me to control my meltdowns. They didn’t want me to be a “zoned out zombie.”
I knew that I was different from everyone when I was a kid. I would always be labeled as “the weird kid” the one who always got yelled at or in trouble but not know why. I didn’t understand what certain phrases meant, to this day I’m a very literal person. I didn’t understand why I got exempt from most things, why people would always say bad things about me or why certain noises bothered me. Why I was doing work at a lower level, always had extra teachers with me. I was also terrified of babies to the point where I would run away or keep a huge distance from them. I also didn’t understand why I couldn’t make or keep friends easily and why people bullied me. Half of the time, I didn’t even know that I was getting bullied as some of it was “subtle”. I didn’t understand why I would talk to myself, something I still do as an adult without realizing it until someone points it out to me.
For years, I had no friends. I wondered why my parents would get so excited about me making even one friend. I remembered going grocery shopping with my dad, and I said “Hi friend” to a girl from my class and my dad was happy. Then he told my mom and she got excited which I didn’t know why.
I learned about having autism through a teacher when I was nine years old. Back in the nineties, autism wasn’t really commonly opened up about or people would automatically think of Dustin Hoffman’s character “Rain Man” who is this super math genius. Oddly, it’s one of my favorite movies but I’ve been lucky to not get the Rain Man card thrown at me. A teacher came out and explained it to me what autism is. Though, when I was a kid my parents only told people they were close with. I wasn’t allowed to open up about it as a kid and was always told either “You know better” “Don’t do this or don’t do that it’s not normal” “people will think you’re weird” “this person gave you a look, rolled their eyes at you etc.” so for years I masked to pass off as being the so called “normal”.
In my teens, I was made ashamed of my autism because of how autism was looked down on back then. So in highschool, I wasnt allowed to tell anyone or to share that. This set me up for tons of bullying, being an easy target, and this set me up for failure. When I made “friends”, or anytime I had met someone my mom would ask my brother if he knew them. I felt like I couldn’t be trusted.
When I was in grade twelve, I learned more about autism and why I do the things I do through a teacher. This is also the year when teachers would do a presentation in my class about autism and open up about me. This is something that I wish would have happened when I was in grade nine.
I was fortunate enough to have graduated highschool despite my grades. Had I maybe had more support things would have been different.
When I was nineteen years old, I met with parents of autistic children. And that’s when I discovered the autism community. I then met up with other autistic people like myself where they shared their similar experiences with what I have been going through.
This was the moment that I came out autistic. It’s not that I became more autistic, I learned that I didn’t always need to mask anymore. I let all my stimming out, I learned that it was okay to be myself. I began to share my story, where I had people reaching out to me. This made me have a purpose in life.
While there were some comments I was faced with, I learned to take it with a grain of salt and educate people on what it is. I started to learn autistic talk and autistic culture.
Coming out autistic has taught me to be myself and to accept myself for who I am. Sure, I have my struggles to this day but with the right supports I can achieve anything.
I hope this blog helps out anyone who is autistic and to parents of autistic children. Please teach your children to be themselves, educate them about their autism, expose them to fellow autistic adults because after all, we were once autistic children.
I am 31 years old and I’m from Courtice, ON Canada. I am an autistic person and graduated college from the Early Childhood Education Program. I’m studying Russian and hope to visit Russia when it becomes safe again. My hobbies include going to the gym, running weightlifting, reading, swimming, yoga, hiking, meditation, knitting, cooking, and learning new things. I also love traveling and I am a huge cat person.