I discovered I was an autistic person in March 2015. I started to really consider the possibility of being autistic in 2010, but it took nearly 5 years to get the socially-acceptable confirmation I needed, through a diagnosis.
Neuro-typical (non-autistic) people view and describe autistics as many things; disabled, disordered, or as having a condition. For me it is more simple than that. I am Jenn and I am also autistic. It is not something I began to suffer with somewhere in my lifespan. It was with me in utero, when I was born and will be a part of me until the day I die.
Autism is not an Appendage.
“Autism isn’t something a person has, or a “shell” that a person is trapped inside. There’s no normal [person] hidden behind the autism. Autism is a way of being. It is pervasive; it colours every experience, every sensation, perception, thought, emotion, and encounter, every aspect of existence. It is not possible to separate the autism from the person–and if it were possible, the person you’d have left would not be the same person you started with.
This is important, so take a moment to consider it: Autism is a way of being. It is not possible to separate the person from the autism.”
I share a way of being that is common with about 1% of the population of the world, approximately 71 million people; more than the current population of the UK. However, those of us who exist in this way are maligned and misunderstood.
Most people think of Raymond Babbitt…
…as in, the guy Dustin Hoffman plays in Rain Man, when you tell them you are autistic. They ask you in you have special maths skills or amazing drawing. I don’t, but I do have some pretty unique talents.
I have forensic attention to detail. A visual mind that I can play images back like on a television screen. I am highly articulate and can understand complex technical systems and explain them to others well. I can detect patterns in data and information that are hard for others to see. I can have the difficult conversations and have no fear speaking in public. I will challenge the status-quo to get the best possible results. I am passionate about social equality and justice.
I have spent the first 32 years of my life trying to fit into a world that was ill-suited to me, not knowing myself. I am now able to remedy this and start playing to my strengths. I can reside with and understand NTs to a degree, but I also know it is important to understand and embrace myself to really find self-truth and know me authenticallyy.
Perhaps you are reading this because I have sent you my CV, or perhaps we met at a conference or party and you googled me. Did I look and sound normal to you? What is normal exactly?
Maybe what I have written has put you off. You are entitled to your opinion about me, and to act accordingly. Please remember though that just as there are myriad skin-tones on the outside there are also myriad mind types inside, each as different in their perspective. It could be that someone you know, or are even related to now or in the future might also be autistic. Think twice before you brush me off, decide not to send the email or call me for that interview. It might be a chance for both of us to learn and benefit.