I’m just realizing at the age of 50 that I’m autistic, and I’m now looking again at earlier events in my life with a new perspective.
It is only since March 2023 that I’ve seriously entertained the notion that I’m autistic. Earlier in life, there were some moments where I thought I might be, but I never pursued a diagnosis, and, truth be told, my case was rather on the mild side. So I dismissed those thoughts. If everybody around me did not consider me autistic, then I must not have been. I truly don’t know how my life would have been different if I had been diagnosed as a child.
What’s I’ve discovered since March 2023, among other things, is that there are much more ways to be autisticthan what the media would have us believe. I guess there are multiple factors at play here. The cases that Hollywood want to show us, and that the news media harps on are those cases that appear dramatic, because they are more entertaining than talking about the cases that are not dramatic. I also think we are better now at identifying the milder cases of autism.
I’d like to remind the general public that it is not any one trait that makes someone autistic, but the constellation of traits that makes someone autistic. Maybe you are allistic (i.e. not autistic) and recognize some of my strategies in your life. Great! It does not mean that I’m not autistic. It also bears repeating that autistic people are not all cut of the same mold. If I don’t resemble your notion of what an autistic person should be, it still does not mean I’m not autistic.
My life may have been an internal struggle, but externally my life hasn’t been dramatic, except for two life-threatening illnesses. I’ve had a heart attack and cancer, but neither were caused by my autism. At most, my bout of cancer has altered my brain in such a way that I think it is now harder to mask my autism.
Looking back at my life, prior to the cancer that reduced my ability to mask, I think the signs were there, but they were too sparse for the adults around me to put two and two together. Maybe advances in diagnosis have also been such that if I had been in my teens today, people would have been able to realize that I’m autistic. I’ll remind you that about 32 years ago, the cancer I had was fatal. People died from it in a matter of months. Yet, now, two and a half years after I entered remission, I am still alive.
Medicine definitely has advanced.
The next installments will go over those events that I am now reinterpreting through the lens of autism.