On Being Autistic
Tears dropped onto my lap as I took test after test, each one saying the same thing. “You have a strong likelihood of Autism.” In that blue light of my monitor, something clicked. A lightbulb moment of self-realization flooded me with memories of so many times I was made fun of for things I thought everyone else experienced, when I was likely just being Autistic.
I felt afraid of sharing this. Afraid people will tell me they suspected all along. That people will judge or discredit me for being self-diagnosed as Autistic. Scared that I’m taking up space where I shouldn’t. That nagging feeling I’ve had in the queer and disabled communities, which is rooted in transantagonism and ableism.
I read @drdevonprice’s Medium article, “My Autism Checklist” and cried over common ground. Sound and light sensitivity, fascination with texture, social issues, social scripting, special interests, and hyperfocus.
The Autistic community is not monolithic and Autism can manifest in many different ways, but taking these online tests was validating and left me emotional, yet energized. I didn’t quite believe them, so I asked my partner to take one to see if maybe everyone’s score was high (turns out that’s not the case). My high scores for masking and camouflaging made sense, since much of what I’m doing is internalized, oftentimes intentionally.
How being Autistic shows up for me
For example, when there’s a sound or overlapping noise, it takes my focus away completely. In a loud, crowded room, I’ll look for a commiserating face to exchange glances with, only to be met with none. Eye contact is something I’ve had to train myself to mimic. Soft yellow, barely-lit rooms are my happy place. I immerse myself in work and interests. When I watch something, I have to know everything about it, scouring IMDB trivia and Twitter for facts.
Devon Price often writes about how Autism is rarely diagnosed in adults and how he is actively opposed to formal diagnosis. “In many cases, getting diagnosed as Autistic can bring a great deal of difficulty and ostracism to a person’s life,” he writes.
I’m excited to discover community, and hopefully in the process, feel less alienated in some of the experiences that have shaped me. Sharing here is a start.