Welcome back to Tom’s Tidbits. Today I will be talking about the day I found out that I had Autism. In this story there are three major components. First things first, like many people, before I got the diagnosis and did some research on my own on the internet, I didn’t know much about Autism myself. I had most certainly heard of it but was under the impression that Autism was a condition that caused people to have the propensity to want to hurt themselves. This is definitely not me! As is very apparent, often only half the story comes out about various medical issues. People get the wrong idea and it can be devastating depending on what it is.
So as I found out that day I had Autism it bothered me. It was the name for the illusive condition I had all through my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. It made it harder for me do to what I wanted. My parents and doctors were trying to figure out what it was. As a child, I did not worry about the differences when I noticed them since they did not affect any of my life’s goals. 8th Grade is where I started to see how the differences could make my life harder. It ultimately caused me to take a different life-path then I thought I wanted to. Now I did go to college and got several degrees. In that way I have been successful. Like my brother has told me recently, the key now is to revamp the idea of what I want to do with life, to make it compatible with Autism. I have seen others do it, so I certainly can. It takes time and effort.
Another background story to the year I got diagnosed had to do with the college I was going to. I went back to college in the Fall of 2007 to take classes to get a teacher’s education certificate as I had wanted to be an elementary school teacher for quite a while (that is what my mom had done for a job during her working career). When I first went to college I had a major in accounting than in finance. This was due to my good ability with simple number skills and proficient use of basic computer programs like Microsoft Word and Excel. I found it wasn’t the best fit and the interest in teaching lingered on. In 2008 I was taking a class about students with exceptionalities, those students with various learning challenges. I had an appointment for Philhaven (a center that works with people with autism and Asperger’s) the next day. At the end of the class period the professor said that we’d be talking about autism the next day. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but it became a big factor once I got my diagnosis.
So I had my appointment at Philhaven the next day. I went in to get testing done. Everyone thought I would get an Asperger’s diagnosis (which seemed better than an autism diagnosis. Now Asperger’s, by my understanding is a subset of autism which is considered a spectrum disorder. After the testing it was discovered that I had autism. Now I was on that side of the chart by a little bit but I was definitely on that side of the spectrum.
So this was a nasty surprise for me and it had my whole family upset. In my case the two issues I had was my false ideas about what autism was (a good reason to learn first before judging) and wasn’t ready to talk about it the next day at school. It was fresh, I had to get used to the idea of it. I had to understand that a diagnosis did not change me. It simply explained the numerous mysteries about the difficulties in my life. And yes, everybody has difficulties in their lives, I’m simply talking about challenges that stem back to grade school that people (doctors and my parents) were trying to figure out to no avail.
What I ended up doing eventually is coming to peace with the diagnosis. I started to read about it on the internet to learn about it. I eventually started a support group in my area for adults with the condition. So I discovered as a person with autism I had a calling to help others with the same condition. One important point, you meet one person with autism, you have only met one person with autism. There are many things in common between people on the spectrum which is the continuum of people with various levels of autism and abilities. Every person is also very unique and each one of us are different have different things that we like and different things that bother us. Sound familiar? Yes it’s true, people in general are like this as well. They are not as extreme and have better coping mechanisms to deal with issues.
Next Tuesday, I will be starting a discussion on color which is very important to me. The blog will be about the changes in crayon sizes over the years. The second half will then be about various crayon brands. Remember if you haven’t subscribed to my blog, you should so that can keep track of my new blogs.