This is an older post, from my other blog (Rude Girl ~ Living In An Aspie World) I edited the first paragraph as originally it sounded like I was kinda boasting about having Aspergers tbh like I am blessed and others on the spectrum weren’t so much. Shame on me. *hides* The more I learn about ‘Aspie Supremacy’ the more I see I have even been guilty of it in my past wordings and blog posts. Well not anymore. More reason why I started this new journey. 😃 I am not editing the rest because I did really like how the original came about, my computer is currently lagging which is causing me to be more irritated as if my perfectionism isn’t enough. Seriously I am about to throw my laptop out the window. Anyways…I more just wanted to share this post as I thought it would be great to share my story growing up with undiagnosed autism as one of my first blogs here. That way new followers can get to know more about my experience and for followers from my other blog who perhaps followed later and also didn’t get a chance to see it.
“Aspergers…That is like a mild form of autism right? So no big deal. Why are you complaining?”
Even though I know there can be different varieties of autism and the spectrum is very complex-ed, autism is never mild. My diagnoses of Asperger Syndrome, High-Functioning Autism or whatever you wish to call it doesn’t necessarily mean I am better off. I have never felt my autism was mild. Does it get easier to cope with and grow with the older I get? Yes, but that was only after I found out what the problem was and even that was just the BEGINNING. My autism never goes away and it never feels ‘mild.’ Like mentioned the spectrum is very complex-ed and traits can not only be different for all of us on the spectrum, but they also effect each of us differently. BUT…For the sake of the argument, if it is ‘milder’ or more high-functioning, it doesn’t matter because this post is not about semantics or labels. This post is also not about complaining, this is simply my experience growing up undiagnosed and I actually didn’t even know what autism was until my late teens. Meaning I had nothing to identify with my entire childhood and teen years. So moving onto the point…
Growing up with high-functioning autism can be really tough because children can be mean and when you are just different enough to stand out, that’s all it takes. Furthermore, not knowing what the problem is makes it worse because you are not doing any of the therapies or getting any kind of help that other children on the spectrum are doing to help manage their condition. Especially high-functioning ones because with the right help, routine, therapy and so on high-functioning autistics normally do really well in the world, but you have to know what the problem is. That was one of my biggest problems as a child and even into my teens was that my family, teachers, doctors and peers just assumed I was a bit weird. Which I most definitely am, but it was more than that.
Besides my obvious lack of eye contact, speech delays or problems when I was younger I think there was other things that singled me out as a child. One of those things was I had a really hard time being touched especially if I was not aware of it. This was really hard as a child because acts of shaking hands, poking someone to get their attention or even just playing with other children was very normal to most people, but for me it was a nightmare. If someone tried to hug me without asking, poked me or even just in my personal space it would send me into instant freak out mode. So as a child I found this really difficult because I couldn’t understand why it made me feel aggravated or angry and I couldn’t explain why I didn’t want to be touched. I probably came across as a really angry child now that I think of it. Haha. I still have a hard time with being touched especially on my more anxious days or when my more annoying aspie traits are rearing it’s ugly head. However now that I am an adult I do have to act like one and have found ways to be more polite about it even if it means to not react in any negative way at all or explain myself if I can so the person understands. For example, a year or so ago I had a really bad day at work, came home in a very anxious, angry and stressed mood with no more patience for other people. My mom tried to offer me a hug in an attempt to help calm me, but I was unaware as she came up behind me and it made me rage on the inside, but I didn’t react to it and instead just went downstairs to be by myself. So as much as I still sometimes have a hard time being touched, I have found better ways to manage it.
My sensory processing disorder also made school very difficult as a child. Since I was sensitive to noise classroom distractions and children playing in the school yard was very difficult for me. I was teased for wanting to stay inside during recess or lunch hour instead of going outside to play with the other kids. Yet for me it was nice to be on my own to regroup for 15 mins or the hour at lunch and could also get more work done as I didn’t have classroom distractions.
Another thing that I think really made me stand out as a child was my stimming behaviors. I use to always twirl around in a circle while I was walking as a child. I also would make these movements with my legs underneath the chair I was sitting in or desk when I would feel restless or anxious. It was one behavior that actually really helped keep me calm. I remember when I was in the 1st or second grade I was pulled out of class by two teachers and asked to stop doing this behavior as it was distracting to my own work and other students in class. I was so embarrassed that I actually broke this habit. Both of these behaviors among others were overlooked and seen as bad habits. I also use to chew on my nails, bit my knuckles until they bled and chewed on clothes until they got ruined. I was asked by my parents, grandparents and peers to break this nasty habit, but I honestly and still do always had this need to chew when I am anxious or nervous.
I was a very literal child and had a very hard time understanding metaphors, ala-gory, analogies and so fourth. I have been a very fast reader since a child and I am very intelligent when it comes to language and English. However I didn’t understand things like metaphors and analogies worth a damn. I remember in 8th or 9th grade our English teacher had assigned this book called “The Old Man And The Sea” by Earnest Hemingway for our class to read. I read it and thought it was the most boring piece of literature I ever had to read. After reading the book we had one of those final assignments to be marked and one of the questions was to point out the bible or religion ala-gory in the book. I remember being like wait?! Where the eff does this book talk about religion? Did I read the wrong book? I literally thought this book was about an old man fishing in the sea. I actually had to get up nervously as I am terrible with talking to people and talk to my teacher about it. She then explained how basically the entire book was an analogy for religion and the bible. I did reread the book after the discussion with my teacher and brought up my project marks because for me failing English was never an option. I still at times have a hard time understanding metaphors and analogies which I find to be quite interesting for a person who loves writing and English. To this day I am a very literal person, but as a child it was really bad. It was not so much that I was gullible, but things like exaggerations went way over my head. I remember a close friend of mine once told me she was up all night doing homework. I responded with how we didn’t get that much homework and that I didn’t know how she could go to school the next day with no sleep or something. In which she corrected me that it was an exaggeration and that she did sleep for a few hours. That is probably a really bad example but it was one I could think of off the top of my head and hopefully you understand what I mean, kind of anwyays. Haha
Sarcasm was also a joy as a kid. Lol. My brother had a lot of fun with this.Luckily I wouldn’t say my brother was someone who used sarcasm all the time but he definitely had his moments with me. He would sarcastically be like “Sure I will give you my sandwich I put time and effort into making” and I would be like “Really?! Gimmie.” and then he would be like “Haha I was being sarcastic.” WTF is sarcasm?! Just give me your sandwich. My nanny is like 95% sarcasm, between her and my brother I think they taught me everything there is to know about sarcasm and how to be rude to people. Jk jk. But yes if it wasn’t for them I probably would still be a lost cause when it comes to sarcasm. Since I had a hard time with sarcasm and different vocal tones it was really hard as a kid to know if someone didn’t like me or was being aggressive towards me or poking fun at me. This probably also had to do with me being so literal as a child as I mentioned. I was a very sensitive child because I would take things like sarcasm as very literal statements. A person would be like “Wow, you are really awesome!” and I would just be like “really? Thank you, so are you,” but then it would be followed by sideremarks and giggles. Since I had a hard time understanding sarcasm, different vocal tones and didn’t always pick up on things right away it made bullying a lot worse. More so though it was not always even just the bullying. If a friend or person just was trying to have fun by making a sarcastic remark and meant no harm by it, I would take it really literal and therefor was hurt by the comment and went into automatic defensive mode. Sarcasm really did blow my mind to no end. I still sometimes have a hard time grasping sarcasm. My husband sometimes will make a sarcastic remark and I will think he is being serious and get all defensive and he will be like “girl, I am only joking, you are the bomb.”
It’s stuff like this that makes me think people are psychotic crazy people. Your words, actions and choices make no sense. I have seen people say something and then turn around and do the complete opposite…like sorry I am not following your train of thought. Your choices have no basis of logic behind them. Then there are also those people who complain about the same thing time and time again, but never do anything to fix the problem or people who just constantly complain and negative every time you see them. These cries for sympathy I never was able to grasp. Instead I would just offer my legit advice to help them thinking I was doing them a favor to be told I was offending them. Eventually I just stopped surrounding myself with the likes of those people because I couldn’t cope. For an autistic person like myself neurotypicals really seem irrational and nuts. I grew up feeling like an alien in society really. Long story short, this is why I cannot deal with many people and why I have only allowed a small circle of family and friends into my life, and only one person I have truly let in completely, my husband.
I think the reasons why I went undiagnosed for so long was a combination of my parents not wanting to come to grips with their child could be any less than their innocent perfect little daughter, especially with the stigma that goes along with autism. The diagnoses criteria was not as informative and good as it is now and I am a female with high-functioning autism. (for those of you who do not know many females get mis-diagnosed because of females ability to fit in more than males and our traits tend to be different than autistic males, but that is a rant for another time tbh)
I am not posting this for sympathy or a cry for help, this is just simply my experience growing up with undiagnosed high-functioning autism or at least this is the best way I can explain it in words. I wouldn’t change a thing about myself or my autism. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today without it and these experiences. As for the bullying in school it really could be a lot worse as I attended small schools in small communities for the majority of my life and it definitely had it’s advantages I think. Plus I had a really protective brother so I was never isolated like some children. I just wanted to stress on it a bit to bring light to that children on the autistic spectrum are a lot more likely to be victims of bullying than normal children. However bullying is still unfortunately apart of growing up and at some point most people become victims to it in one point or another in life because kids are ruthless. I also believe I have a lot of gifts that I don’t know if I would have if it wasn’t for my autistic traits. Things like my love for English, my creativity when it comes to writing, my strong passion for music that other people don’t have that I have met, my imagination and maybe some other things I have yet to realize or discover. My high-functiioning autism has become a lot easier to manage and live with it just may have taken longer to over come it because it was undiagnosed for so long. It’s weird when you like find your identity in your early twenties. Haha.