I’m on the Autistic Spectrum, but was diagnosed late. Generally I was the kind of autistic kid that adults overlook, mostly due to the stereotyped and cliché (mis)conceptions of what autism both is and isn’t. For starters, Autism is a spectrum, meaning that it presents in a variety of different ways. Further, what used to be classed as Asperger’s Syndrome (what I was diagnosed with first) is now considered to simply be part of the spectrum of autism. The terms “high-” and “low-functioning” used to be applied, but this is no longer the case (for the most part) and instead we have the spectrum. The former “levels” of functioning on the spectrum were honestly pretty ableist.
Being on the Autistic spectrum can include other neurodiverse experiences or mental health conditions, including ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), Anxiety, OCD (Obssessive Complusive Disorder) and many more besides. For my part, I experience ADD (Over-focused subtype), OCD and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (as well as Social Anxiety Disorder, but it’s difficult to tell how much of that ties in with my being on the spectrum).
So what does all this mean?
- It means that I’m a strange but generally amazing creature that worries excessively, has an anxiety gremlin rooming with me in my brain, I suffer from constant Intrusive Thoughts and have trouble switching my focus from one thing to another, but good luck getting me to quit once I am focused.
- It means that people and small talk and generally expected social interactions are tantamount to myth and wonder to me and I just do not entertain the notion of a casual conversation because what is this mythical thing of which you speak and how do I participate in it? and I’d really much rather never leave the house than have to say “hello” to a single person I don’t want to greet, ever again.
- It means that I have little-to-zero tone control 90% of the time and if I try to emulate or fake it, yeahhh, we’re both gonna know about it. (This is particularly hard when people do or say something I don’t like or disagree with, because I have no ability to remain civil or not activate You’re A Jerk face. Also awkward when receiving gifts I don’t dig, because my “Yes, thank you for the thought” face needs some work.
- It really needs work.) It means I stress out over even the slightest interaction with anyone who isn’t My People (I have two of those). Yes, even online. Yes, even if I’ve known the person for years. Yes, even if the people are lovely. Yes, no matter what.
- It means I get anxious if my set routine is disrupted and sometimes I will have to go through certain steps before I can happily settle into an activity; like arranging my space just-so at my desk, or making sure that the bed is made before I get in.
- It means that when I’m comfortable with someone and feel safe I can talk forever and ever and ever and sometimes I zone out to what others are saying if it doesn’t interest me and yes this makes me a jerk sometimes, sorry.
- It means I talk in “parentheses”, literally pausing to add in a slightly related sentence before going back to the main topic, by which point I’ve usually moved way too fast and lost everyone because people can’t see parentheses Leo.
Honestly, I could be here all day. Half of the time I forget just what it means. And I could probably have stopped listing things five sentences ago, but I’m not good at not talking about the things that make me neuroatypical. These things are a big part of what makes me, me, and it’s all swings and roundabouts in what they are, do, and how they effect me on a daily basis. But when all is said? I love my neurodivergence. Sure, anxiety sucks and apparently I’m supposed to care that people are hard and socialness is important, but hey–I love my parentheses and how I skip topic five million times a minute and how I’m receptive to sounds and scents that other people might not be.
I intend to talk more openly about each of these things in detail, so look out for the related posts, all of which I will link to my drop down menu at the top of the navigation bar, for sake of convenience and ease. And also because it will be neat and pleasing.