Please Believe Me When I Say I Have Autism

Growing up I remember being happy but a little quirky or different than others. I remember my best friend Joanna loved horses. I remember we had a “best friends folder,” and I would try to find as many pictures of horses as I could and put them in the folder. That was in first and second grade.

I remember in third grade we had a regular fire drill and I hated the sound and the loudness so much that while everyone else was just walking in a line out, I would have my hands on my ears screaming. I’m not sure what it was specifically, but my mom took me out of public school in the third grade. I can remember growing up into teen years and adulthood and getting along in social situations by trying to mimic and memorize how everyone else acted.

When I was 22 years old I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. From 22 on up I struggled severely. I’ve had 22 hospitalizations because I couldn’t figure out how to explain to anyone, even the psychiatrist, how I felt or thought. I went through so many different types of medication and was subsequently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and somatoform disorder. It wasn’t until last year that I was looking up autism spectrum disorder for a friend, and found myself relating to a lot of what was described. I proceeded to find three or four online tests for ASD. I told myself to answer as honestly as I could, and each of them said I indeed did have ASD. But when I talked to my psychiatrist about this, he kind of shrugged it off.

A lot of doctors don’t believe that adult women who aren’t showing some of the typical traits or signs of ASD can be on the spectrum. I eventually got diagnosed when I was in the hospital, and then my psychiatrist agreed with the assessment. However, I’ve found it is very difficult to get your friends and family to believe you have this sudden diagnosis of something most people aren’t very educated about. Also, people say they thought I acted “normal.”

Since being diagnosed, I have experienced clarity in regards to how I feel in different situations. My struggle has been in convincing others that I do in fact have ASD. It’s not that I’m proud of it. It’s that it explains how I’ve always felt. Is there anybody else out there who has also been diagnosed as an adult and had to convince or explain again and again to others that they have ASD?

Getty image by Amok LV.

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