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How It Felt to Grow Up Not Understanding My Autism

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At an early age, I was diagnosed with ADHD. I threw tantrums and had too much energy for my mother to handle. But growing up, my mother and everyone in the family wondered if there was something else going on with me. I didn’t look people in the eyes. I didn’t say the right things at the right times. In fact, I said the wrong things at the most inappropriate times. In one mental assessment in elementary school, there was a sentence, “Asperger’s syndrome likely.” But there was no build up on that.

A few years ago, in 2017, I asked my primary doctor if I could be tested to see if had anything other than ADHD. I went to a psychologist. There I was diagnosed with autism. But still, no one really taught me what autism was. I went to therapy a couple of times but we lost insurance and then no one cared about getting me help.

No one taught me what having autism meant. Why did I struggle? My whole life I’ve struggled to make friends. To look people in the eyes. To not cry at little things.

My grandma and mother judged me for being different. Looked at me strangely when I would have a small meltdown. Meanwhile, my sister, the “normal one,” was treated just fine.

They still to this day have done no research on autism or how to really help me.

When I met my husband, he began teaching me about autism, and explained to me why I struggled. Later after a nervous breakdown that almost got me hospitalized, he got me help. He set me up with a therapist and meds. When my mother-in-law found out I have autism, she did research on how to communicate with me.

I am still learning about my autism every day. Always learning why I struggle. Learning ways to cope. And most importantly, accepting who I am.

Getty image by Solovyova.

Originally published: September 13, 2020
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