I live a fairly normal life (Who am I kidding?! Lifes never normal!😂) I drive, I go to work, I buy stuff that I probably don’t need but want, I go on dates with my boyfriend, I occasionally cause a bit of mischief, I buy fancy cocktails that work out to be the same amount of money I earn in an hour. Most people would look at me and say I was independent, confident, capable of a lot of things.
Some days I am that person, some days I’m not.
As soon as I tell people I’m Autistic, shock seeps into their faces. I’m so used to the responses I get. “But you look so normal”,“ You have a job and work with people?” or this one which made me cringe “But you can’t be on the spectrum, your beautiful!”
I had a lot of help when I was a child. Speech and language therapy, one to one help at school, Counselling. I was very, very lucky to have that support as I know not a lot of children get any of that, to this day. I’m very lucky to have an amazing Mum, family, friends, teachers and other professionals who have supported me through thick and thin over the last 22 years of my life. Without all that I wouldn’t be where or who I am today.
A couple of days ago I was deep in thought about a situation I was in. It was a group conversation about Autism which of course was a topic I could easily relate to! Someone mentioned that I was on the spectrum and then I got this response.
“Your very lucky that you don’t have it anymore, at least your fixed now.” I couldn’t help but laugh. I explained that Autism is a part of who I am (I won’t lie, I really wanted to say “The only thing that needs to be fixed is your ignorance” but I didn’t have the balls!)
… Anyway! I didn’t say that! So, I carry on and explain (in the nicest way possible) that I have found ways of coping with certian things I find challenging, and that I’m still Autistic and still have my struggles. I still need a bit of support from time to time.
“But you don’t need help anymore, it’s a childhood illness. You’ve grown out of it.”
The thing is, I will never grow out of it.
I will always have meltdowns and sensory overloads. I will always find socialising difficult. I will always get anxious about the big and the small changes. I will always struggle to make eye contact. I will always need someone with me when I go to the bank or a GP appointment to help break down complicated information. I will still get close to tears when another car takes the parking space I always park in at work, and when the staff room furniture gets moved around! I will always need help and support, even when I’m elderly!
We still need help, not just when we are kids but when we are adults too. 20’s, 30’s 40’s… 70’s!! We will always need someone to talk to, someone to help us and guide us when we need it. From high functioning to non verbal. Autism doesn’t go away when you hit adulthood, it’s a part of who we are and what makes us unique and special in our own way!