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Adults Have Autism, Too

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I think people forget that children with autism grow up to be adults with autism too. I’m not sure why, but many people seem to believe autism is a disability only children have, and that it doesn’t affect adults.

I believe adults with autism often struggle the most. As an adult who is autistic, I believe we are overlooked and don’t receive the support we are entitled to. Autism is a lifelong disability, and regardless of our age, we will always struggle with certain things. Yes, we can find strategies to overcome these hurdles, but we will always have some challenges in life that most neurotypical people can’t/won’t understand.

For instance, I struggle with crowded places amongst other things. I don’t like speaking to people when I’m out in crowded places, not because I’m being rude but because there’s too much going on already for me. Whether it’s the bright lights, many different sounds or several different conversations going on around me, I just can’t cope. Situations like this often make me feel like I’m going to have a meltdown.

What is a meltdown, you may ask? A meltdown for me is where my brain just shuts off; I feel I have no control over what’s happening. Everything just gets too much for me and I get angry or upset. I’ll flap my hands — this is something I repetitively do when my emotions get too much for me.

No two people on the autism spectrum are alike. As Stephen Shore said “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Autism can be lonely when people don’t understand you, the way you think or the way you speak. Some people believe people with autism don’t have emotions. Wrong! I believe we often feel emotions more intensely then the average person. When something upsets me, I go to a dark place and I can feel depressed for months. Once I start to feel a certain emotion, it’s really hard to get out of that dark place in my mind. However, happiness is the one emotion I do struggle with. Not only do I struggle to recognize when I’m happy, but I struggle to express it to others.

Making friends is tough when you have autism. The world would be a pretty lonely place if you didn’t have friends, right? Well for me, I’ve never really had many friends, and when I do make friends, my friendships don’t last very long. Not only do I have difficulties with communication, but I struggle to know what’s appropriate to say and what’s not. I struggle to form verbal sentences most people would understand.

It’s hard being autistic; people often don’t understand the struggles adults with autism go through. If my writing can help one person in the world understand autism a little better, I’ll be happy. I will have achieved my goal. If I could help an adult with autism realize they aren’t alone, that would be a great achievement too.

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Getty image by vwPix.

Originally published: December 11, 2017
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