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When I Realized I Didn’t Need to Fit In as a Person on the Autism Spectrum

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After I was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum when I was 15, my entire life began to change. People understood me better. And once I looked into the diagnosis, I understood myself better, too.

The diagnosis came when I was in the middle of high school, and I ended up having to transfer to a school that could better meet my needs. I didn’t graduate with my friends from the old school, which I had grown up with and knew very well. And by the time I entered the new school, I didn’t get much of a chance to form close relationships with the kids there before it was time to graduate.

College didn’t pan out at first. It reminded me of the days I struggled at my old high school. So I waited quite a while before I was ready to return. I just started studying Early Childhood Education in the fall of 2015, but I’m only able to manage one class at a time. It’s a community college, so I’m not living on campus, either. It’s difficult to find people to hang out with, especially when I’m focusing more on my work.

I’ve tried connecting with parents in the autism community. Some are open to hearing from me. I’m so grateful for that. However, I’m not actually a parent. So I’ve found some parents don’t want me to be a part of their groups.

Although I respect the views of others, I find that I can disagree with many others on the autism spectrum. I just seem to have a different opinion. I don’t feel like I fit in well with those groups, either.

For a long time, I have felt like I don’t really fit in anywhere. But then I started to realize that maybe I don’t need to fit in somewhere. Maybe I’m supposed to stand out and go my own way.

I have a job making picture communication icons for a special needs organization. I love it. It’s something I’m capable of, and I know that I’m making a difference. I’m working on my own, but I’m working. I’m also volunteering my time whenever I can. I help out in special needs classrooms, as well as a local sensory friendly program.

I’m not really a part of just one group or organization. I suppose I don’t really need to be. Sure, it’s tough when you choose to go your own way. It’s hard when you don’t feel like you belong. But I suppose that’s what being different is really all about.

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe your experience of not quite fitting under one specific diagnosis or a label your community identifies with. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: May 17, 2016
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