Getting my autism spectrum diagnosis took a while. It wasn’t suggested that I was on the autism spectrum until I was in sixth grade. Even then, the idea was dismissed for a few more years until I was officially diagnosed when I was 15. Although I wish I had gotten some help sooner, I can certainly understand why it took them so long to figure out. I had learned ways to cope just enough that I could “blend in.” Well, at least somewhat “blend in.”
I certainly had my obvious moments of behavioral issues, such as acting like a dog in fifth grade and hiding under tables in sixth. I also had many miscommunications. But I miraculously managed to keep my grades up (despite the numerous meltdowns). Rather than learning the material, I memorized it. This strategy worked until I got to 10th grade and just couldn’t remember it all.
After I received my diagnosis, I continued pushing forward. I’ve worked hard. I can drive (on certain roads). I have a job (with part-time hours). I am even going to school (I can only manage one class at a time).
Perhaps I’ve succeeded in “blending in” too well, though. I say this because there have been so many times when people have gotten upset with me over things I struggle with. From issues with recognizing tone of voice to being too “lazy” to get things done, I’ve often felt unfairly judged for my problems. To be honest, I think people sometimes forget I’m on the autism spectrum at all.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m certainly glad that I’m capable of so much. But I have worked hard at it. I am still working hard at it. And I need people to remember that when I say I’m having a difficult time, I’m not looking for an easy way out.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Image via Thinkstock