Adults share how recognizing autism changed their lives

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Yesterday, I asked community members at @Everyday Aspergers, “How has finding out you are or might be on the autism spectrum changed your life in a beneficial way?” And these were the responses.

Having ASD has enriched my life in many ways. ~ Kasey

I am an adult autistic diagnosis. The joy and excitement to discover and to tell my sisters: “See . . . I told you there was something wrong.” I have been able to have a reason for the bullying, emotional abuse and deliberate isolation. I have found a like-minded posse that first welcomed me, accepted me and support, advise and help me. I have finally achieved acceptance of myself and am trying to achieve heart mind centeredness. Something I thought was unachievable: loving myself. ~ John

Before I knew I was Autistic, I spent my whole life trying to fit in and do things that went against my whole personality. After finding out: I no longer try to fit in, I enjoy all my passions, and most of all, I’m a lot easier on myself. I’m able to forgive myself when I make social blunders or when I get overwhelmed and meltdown. It gave me understanding! I hated people touching me, now I know why! I am able to embrace my strengths and weaknesses now. I am able to understand my son, in a way most people can’t. I can use all the struggles I had to help me know how to help him better. It’s a beautiful existence now, where as before it was Hell! It was the difference between accepting myself and trying to be like everyone else, that changed my life! ~ Kimberly

My diagnosis made me realize that I have to take care of myself. Which for me, was a really hard thing to do. I was always taught that I should put others before myself. I thought I was miserable because I was weak . . . Turns out, I was miserable because I was ignoring my needs to meet the needs of others. Understanding what I needed helped me not only do things for myself, but helped me understand how I wished to be treated by others. I’m not walked on anymore because now I know who I am, and I can accept who I am, without the approval of others. ~ Alyssa

My first ever information about Asperger’s was Everyday Aspergers checklist of female traits, and that was like an epiphany to me: That WAS me, it couldn’t be anything else. I started researching, and the more I did, the more my entire life made sense. Why I had always felt like I was from another planet, why the other kids mocked and bullied me, why I don’t get social clues, why everything is either too bright, or too rough or too smelly . . . When I heard the words “everything points to Asperger’s” after my first diagnostic session, I almost cried in relief: finally the last bit of the puzzle had fallen into place. I finally know I am not a second-class neurotypical, but I am actually a very high functioning Aspie, and I found a whole community ready to help each other, which is the best part of it all. ~ Katia

It has given me permission to do the self-care my body instinctually knew to do. I no longer hate myself for not “getting better”. ~ Amy

I was relieved because I recognized so much of my behavior in articles and that gave me a reason to work on myself. Although I was diagnosed when I was 27, a world opened up to me and I learned much about myself but also about other people. I didn’t have to act anymore and I became me in couple of years’ time. Now I’m so grateful that I have been diagnosed with AS and with some help I can cope with the world around me; and I have never been so happy as in the last 10 years of my life. This year will be my 40th birthday.   ~ Mariska

Even into adulthood, I continued to have what I now know to be “meltdowns” and knew I needed help. It was a weird coincidence that my Mom mentioned there was this show called “Parenthood” with a character who has Aspergers. I did some research and really had to dig to find out about women on the spectrum where the traits definitely set off major flags. I finally found a therapist specializing in working with people on the spectrum and it has changed my life by knowing how to accept my unique neurology and not be so mad at myself all the time. I am no longer in defense mode all the time! ~ Ashley

I’m no longer confused as to why I do and say (or don’t do and say) certain things. I always thought I had a “problem” but could find no answer, but finally it all makes sense. ~ Olivia

It has given me permission to be me and to stop trying to be who I’m not. Of course, I have to figure out who that is due to the “Curse of the Autistic Female” (roleplaying!), but as I’m finding it out, I’m being more assertive about my needs. ~ Nicole

I’ve felt I was “wrong” for 26 years and after I contacted the right psychiatrist and she said the word “Asperger,” I read books, articles, and more books. Finally, Tania Marshall’s book – and there “I” was. It feels like coming out of the closet with a bang! I’m running towards happiness, I finally understand myself. ~ Camila

This has absolutely changed my life!! I’m not “wrong.” I’m still “human!” I’m learning to focus on my positive traits, and not hate myself for the negative ones. I’m different, and that’s ok!! ~ Amy

It finally (after 30-odd years) explained why I struggled with certain things: social situations, sensory overload, dealing with people. Understanding this has allowed me to accept the way I am and focus more completely on the things I’m good at. Plus, I’ve rediscovered the joy of stimming (hand flapping in particular), something that I’d felt inhibitions about due to being bullied for it at school. I believe accepting my autism also made it easier for me to come to terms with being transgender, coming out and transitioning. ~ Alex

I don’t have to apologize for who I am. I know how to take care of myself better and more realistically. I have a wonderful online support group. I can help others with my long experience of being an undiagnosed Aspergers woman. I can peel off all those other labels I had all my life: lazy, stupid, uncooperative, antisocial, too sensitive, rude, intentional misunderstanding people; now just one word: autistic. ~ Raven

I always knew I was different but not less . When I discovered why, it was a relief for me. I could explain why I observe details, and why I’m stressed very easily. Everything makes sense to me. ~ Adamadia

I think people treat me differently but sometimes as if I’m thick or something; so I wish that people would look up what Aspergers is before they assume that. However, I think that being Autistic has actually helped me to get along with many different groups of people. And I get to meet people I thought I’d never get to meet (including celebs)!! I like to spread awareness of AS online using my blog/website and people I chat to. Unfortunately, some see my disability as a way to bully me because I get fixations – but having a fixation is fine, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone or make anyone feel upset.           ~ Sarah-Lou

After living 35 years of meltdowns and feeling like I didn’t fit in with anybody else in this world because of my intelligence versus theirs . . . I read the book Aspergirls and cried for a week because I had found the answer! Being diagnosed was my answer from God. I was wired differently and it explained why life was such a hard thing to face growing up and daily for that matter. I also found out about my sensory overload and also that I am in control of what I choose to take part in and that I don’t always have to say “yes” all the time to people, especially when it comes down to socializing or going places!! I have a whole planet of fellow Aspies that I’ve made friends with! You guys are the greatest!           ~ Robin

I understand why I am the way that I am. I am not less, I am simply wired differently. I am happy with how I was created and consider it a huge blessing to share with my world.          ~ Jane

I was 27 when I realized I had Asperger’s. Suddenly, I had a reason for why I always felt like I was on the outside of things and why I felt like there was an invisible line separating me from three other people standing in a group. I had a reason for why, when other women my age were obsessed with celebrity TV, designer bags, and wrinkle avoidance; I preferred to discuss deeply-rooted American political issues, obsess over Doctor Who, and keep a plastic sword from last year’s Halloween pirate costume in my car “in case of carjackers.” I had a reason for why I couldn’t seem to manage to participate successfully in a three-person conversation, or why making unbroken eye contact seemed so incredibly unnatural, or why I would panic and freeze whenever someone rang my doorbell and wait for them to go away, so that I could creep to the window to see who it was that had so carelessly disrupted the privacy of my introvert-apartment-cocoon afternoon. With my diagnosis, I was freed from the constant cycle of trying to mimic, getting it wrong, and hours of self-flagellation for my failure. Knowing that I am an Aspie has brought with it the freedom to embrace myself and to celebrate who I am. ~ Amber

When I first discovered I was on the autism spectrum, I just cried. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. Finally, an understanding of what was “wrong,” while also feeling comforted in knowing that I had found a place. For the first time in my life, I felt camaraderie. ~ Carol

People confuse me; the way they do things, the reasoning behind their behaviors, none of it seemed logical to me, and because of that I secretly believed I was stupid, unable to grasp the basics everyone else knew instinctively. I came to realize after my diagnosis, that though I may struggle with some straightforward things, people seek out my voice because I am actually rather clever. ~ Nicola

I see myself for the first time. I see others for the first time. And I see that we are all okay just the way we are. ~ Anonymous

After my diagnosis it’s helped me finally realize that I no longer have to search or wonder why I’m so different, why I act or say or do (or don’t) the things that I do or how I may behave, the meltdowns, sensory issues (why I was so terrified of fireworks running around with my hands over my ears or when a dog barks or how they lick you), my food issues, how I mimicked other girls, my “introvertedness,” how I prefer to be alone and I could go on forever; but after reading Tania Marshall’s book I saw me . . . finally, I don’t feel as though I’m on a different planet! ~ Apryl

I was assessed and diagnosed after recognizing features of myself in my son who was diagnosed a year earlier. It helped me stop beating myself up for past problems and understand why I’m so sensitive and self analytical. ~ Sadie

Figuring out there was a name for my supposed “weirdness” and then finding others like myself. ~ Jen

I spent 40-odd years feeling like an alien, an outcast and unacceptable to most people. When my best friend (who has Asperger’s) slowly, gently and with great kindness, opened my eyes to the fact I almost definitely have AS myself, whilst slightly terrified, it came as a tremendous relief. The last couple of years have been a process of coming to terms with this new awareness, learning about AS, and finally feeling like I’m a valid person, who isn’t alone in the world. It’s also been a great help to my husband and daughter in understanding what makes me tick. ~ Sarah

It allowed me to forgive myself for not loving myself more, for thinking so poorly of myself and why I could not ever fit in. It assured me that I was right all along, that my thinking WAS different, and there was a reason why!!! ~ Denise

I understand myself much better now and can forgive myself for not being like most people. While it was difficult to process, being diagnosed as an adult, I finally feel like I’ve made it home after a long journey, often lost, to where I always should have known these things about myself. ~ Sean

I finally felt free to be me and stop trying to fit in or constantly analyze why I wasn’t. Trying to find that magic combination to unlock the door to “normal” was stressful and exhausting. ~ Kasey

Diagnosed six months ago, age 52. I’m observing myself in such a different way, learning who I am, why I think the way I do, why I do things the way I do. Above all, able to forgive myself for not knowing the ways of the World and how I fit in. I’m able to drop the coping strategies that no longer serve me and develop new ones. ~ Lucienne

For me, it was like a light bulb came on over my head. All the ways I have been “weird” all of my life suddenly made sense, and I was able to find acceptance of myself beyond anything I could do before that. I also realized that my dad was ASD, too, and I was able to fully understand him for the first time!!! ~ Martha

Finding out I am on the autism spectrum was like meeting myself for the first time. I began to understand why I do the things I do or say what I say. I came to understand how I was perceived by others versus thinking they automatically knew my heart, intentions, or the meaning of things I said. I have finally reached a point where I no longer try to pretend to fit in by being who I think society expects me to be. I am who I am . . . unashamedly. The result is that I have finally found acceptance both from other autistics as well as NTs. ~ Nancy

I was diagnosed with Aspergers nearly a year ago, at the age of 38. It has been incredibly freeing, as I have spent the last year shedding the aspects of myself that were there as a sort of cover, and finding out who I truly am. All of my life I have felt out of place, and suddenly it is as if the curtain has lifted, and I know where I belong. ~ Jennifer

I was finally dx’d a year ago, at 45, but I’d suspected it for years. It was wonderful to get validation from a mental-health professional, and be able to be “out” about it. I’m now less inclined to hide myself behind socially-acceptable masks and more inclined to let my freak flag fly. I also disclosed it to my boss, who is very understanding and appreciated having the info, so she could work with me in a way that helps both of us succeed. And I finally know I’m not the only one on the planet who is “like that”, there are reasons for my quirks and they’re genetic; not something I can or should control, suppress, hide, and hate myself for. ~ Jenna

Being diagnosed with ASD has helped me to understand why I behave the way I do, and to help remove some of the layers of masks I’ve covered myself with since I was a child. I’m able to accept myself as genuinely Me and ask for patience or forgiveness when I used to just feel like a failure. I still have my depression and anxiety, and I’m still a nut, but I love me and I love knowing I fit in somewhere.~ Harley

I found freedom. ~ Gail

Samantha Craft (@aspergersgirls) compiled this page. She has corresponded with thousands of individuals touched by autism in their lives. Sam is the author of Everyday Aspergers, a revealing memoir, ten years in the making, about the everyday life of an autistic woman. More information can be found at Spectrum Suite LLC, myspectrumsuite.com

Everyday Aspergers book, 10 years in the making, is available on Amazon in many countries.

smiling

 

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8 thoughts on “Adults share how recognizing autism changed their lives

  1. I’m finding it really hard to read/listen to/acknowledge the word ‘wrong’ in the context of diagnosis. There is nothing WRONG with us, and it pains me that most of us grew up feeling faulty, on the edges, outside…or ‘wrong’.

    In a world still reeling from colonialist racism, apartheid, institutionisation of the disabled, gendered differentiation of labour that is of a rhetorical yester year, how does a group such as ourselves gain acceptance as merely different; especially given the disbelief there can be wholesale diagnosis of legitimate cases?

    Courage to be ourselves, I’m guessing. That seems to be the message from these statements. Knowing I am not alone is healing. Thank you to all who spoke.

    Like

  2. This is a wonderful read. I heartily concur it has been so freeing to have answers at long last. I spent too many years feeling broken. Now, I know it wasn’t that. I am beautiful and whole just as I am. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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