June 2nd, 2016
A year from the date when I got my diagnosis of Aspergers. A year from the time when I went beyond talking about Autism with my son, and began to share it with others. A year of having my heart pound as I shared this ‘secret’ in fear of how others would respond.
And they all accepted. The only question on my diagnosis arose from my mother who said, “We took you to the doctors. How is it they didn’t see it?” It wasn’t that she didn’t believe, but that she wondered how it had been missed.
Autism wasn’t something being diagnosed when I was in school, however, and Autism in females was even lesser known.
For me, this diagnosis gave… validity??? to the ‘difference’ I had felt all of my life. When I was a child – and I have since read that I was not the only one – I literally thought I had come from another planet. It wasn’t just that I felt different, I was convinced that I was different, and that the only explanation to this was that someone had abandoned me here.
I spent many nights of my childhood begging for them to come back and get me, and bring me ‘home.’
My diagnosis gave me words that I can use to express to others why I am so different, and why I can’t be like them, and why I so often fail at even the things they are standing behind me rooting for me to succeed in.
Being diagnosed with Autism, for me, was like having the chains that had bound me all of my life suddenly disintegrate. It isn’t that my diagnosis changed the person that I was, but instead it provided me with the freedom to shed the mask I had been unsuccessfully wearing much of my life, and begin to allow my ‘real self’ to shine through.
It was a strong wall I had built around myself, though. A wall to protect me from those who would attack, and torment, and constantly remind me of how I failed to live up to society’s expectations of me (even in gentle, friendly voices.) A wall that I could actually see, though could never break through on my own.
Likely it will take a while to get that wall down, and likely there will still be people on the other side that will blame me for not being ‘like them.’ But with my diagnosis, the light has started to shine through. Sometimes I think, “Maybe I can survive out there. Maybe I can be myself, and still be accepted.”
And whether it takes months, or years, or the rest of my life – I know that is the way I am supposed to go. Take down the wall, and let people in.
And for all of these reasons and more, I am grateful for, and not ashamed of, my Autism diagnosis.