The ASD Me is still me, Isn’t it?
Yesterday I still ate the same way I do today.
The diagnosis didn’t change how I eat, how I dress or how I look.
But it sure did free my mind.
I am a mother of 3 grown children (2 boys and one girl) and grandmother to 5 beautiful grandchildren ranging in age from 2 to 10, only one of those is a boy (he does grumble about that a little).
I did not manage to get my diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder until this year at the age of 48. In fact I honestly didn’t even think about the idea that I may have had Autism until my daughter started to think that perhaps one or both of her daughters may have it or at least some sort of processing disorder (and yes they do have processing disorders and suspected Autism Spectrum Disorder for one, she is to be retested in a year).
My daughter started to read up on how the symptoms differ between boys and girls. My grandson who is my oldest son’s middle child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder Moderate/Severe by age 2.
At that time I worked as a Manager in the industry of Healthcare -Managing Assisted Living Units and advocating for and managing the healthcare needs of those who had Intellectual and Physical Disabilities. I had been doing this type of work for many years and had become very familiar with navigating the system and with the concept of early intervention being essential. This is likely why my grandson has been able to thrive amongst many other reasons, like his terrific Mother and Father. Not to mention his absolutely awesome Meemaw (yes me). He has the “gifted” intelligence that his Doctor said only 15% of the children with his level of Autism get. Math, Reading, and Sciences he is very interested in. He can do math in his head very fast. Can invent things that we cannot even dream up. And he also can be very arrogant, which he will correct us and tell us he is not arrogant, he is just smarter than us. It is funny because I find myself saying the same thing to people at times. I watch as he shakes his head at someone when they “just don’t get it”, and he walks away still shaking his head. All I can do at that point is know exactly how he feels because I honestly can know how he feels.
When my daughter read up on these differences I started to read some more, and then more. So I talked to my therapist. (Yep my life has not been picture perfect, imagine that). I am not a very open type person, I realize that being on here blogging is the opposite of what I just said. However, I am pushing myself past my comfort zone to improve my communication skills and to also hopefully help someone else out there from going through some of the same things I went through in life. Or maybe Just make someone laugh? Give them a chuckle for the day? I am working hard on my sense of humor.
Anyhow, not to drag this out much longer, I am sure many can get tired of reading long drawn out things…….. So summing it up. I talked to my doctor and finally testing got arranged. I went in, and here I am. Obviously we know the results now. I find it funny that the whole time we fought for early intervention for my grandson; that I did not think to suspect myself. And likely if anyone had suggested it to me I would have told them they were nuts. I would have needed to come to this realization myself. And I did.
The Doctor knew within 10 minutes of me being in his office. All the tests confirmed it, plus really bad ADHD. Autism is moderate level. Huge deficits in communication. Won’t go into the rest of the details. But here is what it meant to me. I am not strange in a bad way. I can trust my mind now. My mind is good. All of my life I have been told that I do not make good decisions and that I should not listen to my mind and that I need to not be impulsive and that I need to not be so blunt, and that I need to sit still, be quiet, be proper, basically I was not allowed to be who or what I am without feeling like what and who I am was not good enough. Not sure if I imposed that on myself, if society imposed it on me or if it was imposed on me by my familial environment. Perhaps it was a combination of all of these things. However I did not like to get negative attention so I would comply, be quiet and just not want to get noticed.
On the other hand as I got older and got into jobs, I found out that many of them taught you one thing and then did another when you weren’t looking. I did not like this, I found this to be unethical. When I expressed this, I found myself to be jobless. Of course it was usually more complex than that, but that is easier and less messy to explain. Plus it keeps names out of the public eye. Fraud is never a nice word to put out there when you find it and names need to be kept out of the public eye then. I don’t need people bearing down on me.
I had a knack for finding things inside of companies that were not supposed to be happening, inefficient operation procedures, inefficient operating programs on computers, duplicate records and a method and plan put together to consolidate and increase business easily. Usually companies didn’t take kindly to me telling them that they could increase their profits if they would just get rid of all the inefficiency that they had going on and fire the guy in accounting who is stealing money. Even if I handed them proof. Again this was not well received and my people skills were not shall we say “polished”?
So I have much work experience working jobs all in the professional industry, never waited tables, worked fast food, or hard labor. But I never could stay at a job more than 2 years and 11 months. That was the longest one. By then I had gotten so good at documentation to cover my own “butt” that it took them setting me up to fire me. I did win my unemployment with my proof. I did not want my job back.
I worked a little more after that but my health had already started to take a hit and it kept going downhill until 2015 when I went to part-time. I have not been able to work since January 2016. I became physically ill then. As of now they still do not know what is wrong, I am much better than I was but not great yet. Had a doctor tell me I was dying, and now I am alive. So I am grateful.
I just know that I am alive, I have so much to learn and my mind, it is good. Things are clearer now because I know I can trust my mind, my instincts can be trusted. I know my sense of smell being so strong is because I have Autism, I know that all the loud noises bother me because of this and now I have a plan in place to avoid that, noise cancelling head set with my music helps me tremendously.
Knowing that I can trust my mind and my instincts has also allowed me to be able to forgive people more. Knowing that they do not have the capacity to understand what I may be feeling, or what I may be experiencing and therefore their reaction, although I may view it as idiotic and irrational and annoying, may still be forgiven. I have to keep working on that part. Forgive, that’s tough for me. Trust, that’s tough for me too. I don’t like to trust people because I feel that most people are liars and that they will lie to me and then when I find out I will no longer be able to trust them anymore. This will then change the relationship I have with them forever. Something like this may seem small to most, but to me it is earth shattering.
Learning to live with my diagnosis and learning to view things in the world differently has been a new challenge. I will not use my Autism Spectrum Disorder as a crutch, a stumbling block or an excuse to give up on anything. In fact I am going to do just the opposite. My physical health has limited me to some extent. But I am going to grow my mind, my knowledge base and my communication skills as much as I can.
In my next blog I will talk about how my family took it when I told them I had Autism Spectrum Disorder. A hint about that is that not all of them talk to me at this current time.