Even though I knew I was different from the first week at school, it took until 2012 to get diagnosed as Autistic – also ADHD.
When I went running back, almost proudly as I finally had the proof that I thought would get me accepted by family, my mum’s sister came out with an amazing admission.
One, that if she had said 30 years ago, might have stopped me living this amazing life that I have.
She had a son, Richard, my cousin, whom I spent a good deal of my young life hang around with. I used to like playing with him, not just because of their amazing house, or all the amazing toys he had. Come to think of it I didn’t know why, after all he didn’t say very much, tended to make more grunting noises that words and was into things like the weather to an almost anal detail – while I was more about spaceships, making things go bang and almost getting into trouble.
I still remember the conversation I had with her when I had come out. The conversation after I had spoken to my parents, as they were still talking to me then. A conversation where my mum’s sister had told the family that Richard was Autistic, after hearing about my admission. So much so that it had been recommended that he went to a special school. She had said no, and so Richard went through the normal school system and ended up spending his life living at home. Even now, his parents having done a barn conversation next to their house, and Richard moving into there.
She said to me,
“When I watched you and Richard play together I always wanted Richard to be more like you.”
Somehow I managed to say it only in my head,
“And if it wasn’t for your pride you would have told us all he was autistic, I would have worked out I was too and how fucking different would my fucking life had been?”
The difference between us, as I believe Richard doesn’t have it, is that I have ADHD – and I cannot stress enough what a difference that makes to one when one is autistic. It’s not like having both, it actually like have a different thing – not a combination but a whole new condition.
At best I can describe it like having a set of balancing scales inside, which control how I present. One side is ADHD, the other autism. When ADHD is in control, off I go, poster boy for it. Bouncing round rooms, never shutting up, not able to ever stop as that internal motor keeps on turning. When autism has control its never quite such a fun ride. All the time thinking, weighing up all the options, working out all the possible paths and routes that everything could take. More of a sitting down and staring at the wall type of thing, which isn’t as much fun as bouncing off it.
Due to not giving iT (as I refer to the autistic me, something that when allowed is an awesome thing to have, and when not, well) the respect iT needed – despite the Sulky Sundays – iT went BANG just before I turned 40. Meaning that it wasn’t a midlife crises I went through but rather this mysterious thing that is known as Midlife Undiagnosed Autism; which needs its own separate article. I was told, after my own Big Bang, that it was amazing I left the safety of the family home I am so autistic, and a miracle I am not a hard drug user let alone never been arrested my ADHD is so great.
Yet it means nothing to me to look at it like that. When I look back at all the things that I have done, the places I have been and the people I have met I consider myself to have lived, and yet to live, one of the most amazing rollercoaster of an adventure called Life. So much so, after validation from the doctor diagnosing me for a PTSD (yet another article – The Day Someone Tried to Kill Me After Knowing me for 60 Seconds), that the book I had started will be finished.
But part of me wonders how much pain over the years would I have been spared if I had known I was on The Spectrum. As someone whom has told a number of people that they are, I have quite a good radar for detecting it, I understand what door I am opening for them. Answers to questions they have had their whole life and even more questions about their life that there might not be any answers for.
However, at least currently, I am back in the camp of being glad of not knowing when I was a kid. As knowing might, or more probably would have, put physiologic restraints on what I did. As to why I decided to write this all down now, it’s because of someone I am talking to on Twitter.
They are sure a friends child is on The Spectrum, however, wont go for diagnoses. Report them to Child Services, said I without thinking, as an autistic I consider it almost abuse that they are not getting the help they are allowed. Then some time passed, as it always does, and now I am not so sure, especially as this friend has an eye on the kid. Get the kid diagnosed, labelled, possible help – and restrict what they might go and do, after all how could an autistic kid do that?
Or let them spend what maybe decades of internal, unspoken pain that controls them, without the social restrictions a label places on them. For them to find out, or maybe told, what it is that is this other part of them, much later on it life, when they have done the amazing things that no autistic person could.
Which means the moral, if there is one, of this tale, is that when one is one The Spectrum, there never is an easy answer, you cannot help but spend many units of time processing each decision tree, spreading out the branches of options, trying to figure out what is what and not worrying so much about the why (as who can possible understand what you Humans do).
The only sad part to this tale is that having been banished from The Family, I have never had the chance to speak to Richard since I’ve known. Never had the chance to talk to him about it, to let him know how much fun I had playing with him and how sorry I am that we drifted apart over the years, finally to be given a chance to get to know each other again – yet blocked by people whom think they know better.
Oh well, given that I know what I can do, it wont last forever. I’ll get to chat to him – one day.