“Have you even considered you might have autism?”
I looked up from my lap to the therapist and shook my head.
“Your social anxiety, the non stop fidgeting, the blank stare we get when you zone out, and a few other traits I notice mirrors symptoms we see in girls.”
She’s crazy, that’s not me.
A Few Weeks Later
A former teacher listened intently as I rambled on.
“She asked me if I thought I had autism. That’s crazy. I get I’m a bit quiet but that’s it.”
“Why did she ask?”
“I was anxious to talk and fidgeting. She also mentioned a blank stare when I zone out. I probably did have something in my hand as comfort, but also it was a tense situation.”
Once again she paused.
“I agree with her.”
“The way you talk, your difficulty to maintain eye contact, your hyper-focus in art, and yes, the fidgeting. Not to mention, I’ve seen you around crowds of people and you seem to have strong reactions to loud sounds.”
Once again I’m plopped in a chair facing a therapist, this time a different one.
This time I informed her about the former therapist and then the teacher talking about autism.
I can’t say. I don’t know you well, but keep me updated during the testing.
Later that night
A text from her: https://the-art-of-autism.com/females-and-aspergers-a-checklist/
“Females and Aspergers: A Checklist”
Check. Check. Check. The list and the check count continued.
For once, I can see myself in a mirror.
Oh yes. The testing.
It sucked. The first four hour session I was too anxious and didn’t answer enough of the questions that they weren’t sure if the results were skewed so I have to go back.
3 Months pass
I’m back. I spent time memorizing pictures and answered similar questions to before. The worse part quickly came. Staring at faces of people figuring out unrecognizable emotions. It seemed to last forever. Finally the end came. I thought a brain break would be in order but alas, I was wrong. Figuring out emotion through voice with NO face was next. My brain was screaming.
A Week Later
I follow the neuropsychologist back into her office.
“I’m so proud you answered all the questions. I have some more questions to ask you.
How is school going, how are you, blah, blah, blah…”
I answered each question, ready to move to the next.
Finally, she summons my mom to the room.
“She has a few symptoms of being on the spectrum.”
She proceeded to talk about the low score of reading people’s emotions and social cues. I’ve been taught what to say which is why no one could have really noticed. She brought up the conversation earlier in the day. Apparently, it was supposed to be more of a conversation and not a one way street. Also, why do people move their hands when they talk?
I had my answer. I do indeed have autism.
So here’s a quick note to autism:
I have you, but you do not have control over me. In someways you may be an obstacle, but in others a gift. You are not going to stand in my way. Rather than learning to adapt and overcome, I will just learn to adapt and live. You are a blessing and a curse. Thank you for being here and helping me be who I am.
Now a letter to you:
Props to you if you read this, if not that’s fine too. For most, this is a surprise. Females with autism tend to get diagnosed later as we know what to do and say as we have taught ourselves to mimic others. This is known as masking. It’s always been hard for me to maintain eye contact and listen. I’m quiet and now I know it’s more than just social anxiety, although it still plays a role. I know I don’t present the stereotypical male symptoms of autism because shocking news, I’m a girl. Noise can be overwhelming for me, so can smell and some textures get a rise out of me. Getting diagnosed was a relief, and I hope that sharing this with you will allow for a better understanding. You are all incredible people. Love you all.
I’m neurodivergent and, in my opinion, that sounds way cooler than neurotypical.