I am a 50+-year-old American woman of predominantly Western European (in particular mid-European, Cornish, and Eurasian) descent. Throw in a little West Africa (via the Caribbean slave trade), Papua New Guinea, indigenous South America, indigenous Taiwan, and globally distributed Jewish roots, and you’ve got me.
I consider myself a full-blown Aspie. As of this writing, I
have not been formally diagnosed. I have not been able to verbally communicate effectively with anyone qualified to deliver that diagnosis. I have been assessed by a qualified professional and yes, I’m Actually Autistic. I have been searching for some time for a professional who can assist me, as well as the financial means with which to pay for a qualified assessment. But because of the following issues, I was unable to get a competent diagnosis:
- social anxiety
- visual, non-verbal cognitive and communication process
- alternative comprehension of spoken vocabulary
- impaired social facility with professionals
- all-’round asocial Aspergian tendencies
Fortunately, as of September, 2016, that irritation is behind me. I have corroboration from a professional, so let’s tick off that box, shall we 🙂
As a child, I was intensely withdrawn… was unable to form lasting relationships with peers… I refused to play with toys as they were (I took apart the vacuum cleaner my parents gave me and played with the parts individually, and I dismembered and reassembled the dolls with which I was supposed to simulate/practice parenting)… I was fascinated — often to the exclusion of all else — with spinning objects… I could not fall asleep unless I rubbed the satin edge of my blanket till it was threadbare… I read books written for individuals well beyond my assumed developmental level, yet I comprehended almost nothing of what I read… I self-injured in times of intense personal distress… I talked to myself constantly… I was highly sensitive to touch (so that sometimes even the most loving touch felt like a blow, and when people hugged me I felt like they were beating me)… I lashed out against my siblings and melted down frequently, and my anti-social behavior and feral manners humiliated my parents, who were leaders in their community.
When I was growing up, there was very little understanding of autism or its various spectral manifestations, and my parents did not have the means to pay for special care for me. I was in and out of special programs in school, as well as therapies. Nothing seemed to help my continued distress, or improve my “bad” behavior. The best anyone could hope for me, was that I would stay out of jail and find a regular job, someday. I don’t think my parents ever expected me to turn out as independent as I did.
In spite of negligent treatment by people who either assumed there was nothing wrong with me or I would eventually grow out of my troubles, I have managed to piece together a life of considerable accomplishment, while keeping my deficits well out of public view. My Aspie traits have persisted, including those you’ve read about in the prior pages. I have been covering for my lack of functional abilities my entire life, and I have done everything in my power to hide them from a judgmental, prejudiced, and predatory world — including friends and family.
Since I was a young girl, I have wanted to be a writer. The best writer I could be. I have made a career (albeit unpaid) of observing and studying the human race in exquisite detail. For most of my life, I told myself it was so that I could create believable fictional characters. Now I realize that the fictional character I’ve been creating all these years, is myself.
Like Liane Holliday Willey, I am adept at “pretending to be normal.” I am the Aspie among you who has gone undetected throughout my adult life, because I removed myself as far as possible from all the people who knew me as a troubled child and teenager.
I own a house, have a successful technology career, and since 2004, I’ve been legally married to my same-sex life partner of 25 years. I am also a part-time executive with a non-profit volunteer organization. Life goes on, regardless of all the ups and downs. Yep, life goes on.