The Moment I Knew I'm Autistic

I will never forget the moment I knew.

An innate, visceral kind of knowing that left no doubt in my mind and momentarily no air in my lungs as the proverbial penny dropped: I am autistic.

If I step back from that moment, mid-afternoon on Monday, April 10, 2017, and rewind to think back over the couple of months prior, my journey started innocuously enough. A casual conversation at home with my sister, reminiscing about the alternately funny, frustrating and fabulous traits of a family member. Friendly banter and well-meant comments from an assortment of people about my likes, dislikes, trials and tribulations.

While certainly not screaming autism, these opportune moments introduced me to words and concepts  I’d never really thought much about before (think Asperger’s, social anxiety, sensory sensitivity and more) and combined to create something important in me: a trickle of awareness.

Here follows an illustrative excerpt from my internal conversation during the time the trickle grew:

“Hmm yeah, I know I am slightly quirky and have a few idiosyncrasies here and there. Sure, socializing is pretty traumatic at times and can suck the life force out of me if I’m not careful to manage it properly. I know I struggle with some things that don’t seem to phase most people, and random sensory things bug me… But that’s just me in my weird Chloe world, right? Could they be autistic traits? Hmm…!”

That trickle of awareness soon became a flood, and so I did what I usually do when I have questions to answer: I researched.

Serendipitously, early on in my research I saw mention of there being a distinct female presentation of autism. I say serendipitously because I was about to can my research and chalk it all up to experience. Few of the “classical” (read: male) autistic traits that emerged from my research seemed to fit, however this female presentation sounded interesting so I changed tack.

This change of direction took me to my moment. I landed upon the writings of Samantha Craft, Tania Marshall and Tony Attwood (amongst others) and read lists of female-oriented autistic traits and characteristics. As each bullet point rolled before my eyes, I felt a mounting familiarity and sensed a resonance that was close to physical. This was my moment, the moment I knew.

As I sat back in my chair and breathed my first breath in who knows how long, I smiled, because in this moment I had found a friend. In this moment I had come home. In this moment I had removed the strange fuzzy filter through which I had been living in the world all of these years. And in this moment, I was gifted the realization that although there is a long and winding journey ahead of me, this moment, the moment I knew, would be the start of something special.

This story originally appeared on Autism West.

Getty image by Gustavo Frazao.

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