When People Had an Unexpected Reaction to My Asperger’s Diagnosis

As someone on the autism spectrum, one of the most common questions I hear is about how my diagnosis changed me. But the funny thing is that I have noticed more of a change in others.

Growing up was confusing to me. For my whole life, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get things right. People gave me strange looks. They became angry over things that didn’t make sense to me. It seemed to me that people were just being nit-picky. I tried to tell them I was lost, but no one seemed to hear me. In 10th grade, after 15 long, tiring years, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. I shrugged off this “official” diagnosis because I didn’t really know what it was. I was still the same person.

What I wasn’t expecting was for other people to stop being so mad at me. They began to listen. People understood my struggles, such as my hypersensitivities and my literal thinking. Instead of being upset when I misunderstood something, they stopped to help explain it to me in a different way. When I was overwhelmed with a task, they would help me break it down into smaller steps rather than assuming I was being lazy.

How did my autism spectrum diagnosis change me? It didn’t.

Rather, my diagnosis changed others. It changed their point of view about me. I was no longer seen as a lazy, rude, selfish girl. I was no longer considered to be “picky” over foods or clothing, or “overreacting” due to changes in my routine. Instead, I was finally seen as the hard-working, generous and caring woman I was striving to become. I was not “picky,” but hypersensitive. I was not “overreacting” to change; rather, I was unprepared for it.

A diagnosis hasn’t changed who I am. It has changed how others see me.

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us about a time someone in your community went above and beyond (or did the exact opposite) for you or your loved one with special needs. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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