What I’m really thinking The adult with autism
Last year I took some tests at my local adult autism centre and it emerged that I tick all the boxes for Asperger’s. I am in my 40s, and I am not alone. There has been a huge surge in adults, especially women, tested in the last five years.
Why was it not noticed sooner? I was a very odd child: I rarely played with or talked to other children in my early years, out of choice, and spent most of my teens ostracised as I didn’t understand others’ social rules. But it was the 1970s, I was a girl, and autism was never mentioned; indeed, the diagnostic criteria until recently were based on presentation in boys. Do I wish I’d been identified sooner? Yes and no: I’d have liked some help, but not to have been limited by the label.
I haven’t done badly in life. I have a degree and a good job, a partner, a house and a small but valued social circle. Now I have to come to terms with having what other people call a “disability”, a “mental disorder”, a “syndrome”, and which some people would like to see “cured.” I don’t want a cure: I value the unique insights, talents and attention to detail that Asperger’s has given me.
The public at large still believe autism is found mainly in little boys. I can’t “come out” at work for fear of being thought of as either stupid or Rain Man. It’s much harder than coming out as gay, which I did in my 20s. Thank goodness for the online community, my local autism theatre group and Autscape, a conference I recently attended run by and for autistic people. There I cou could proudly say I’m identified as neuro-diverse.neur Autism rights have a long way to go, and I’d like to think I can, in a small w way, be a pioneer for neuro