I was 48 years old on the day I was told I’m officially autistic.
This moment had been a long time coming. Realistically, I’ve known I was on the spectrum ever since my son was diagnosed some 16 years ago. I recognised so much of myself in what I was told about him and the way he thought. As more of my children were diagnosed (four out of five have an official diagnosis, with the other clearly on the spectrum as well), I learned more and more about autism and it became increasingly clear there was no doubt. I’m autistic.
The problem with this knowing is that there are those out there who think that if you don’t have an official bit of paper from someone in a white coat, then you have no right to call yourself autistic. (Or any other neurodiverse condition for that matter.) It doesn’t matter that a diagnosis won’t change your reality. It doesn’t matter that a diagnosis won’t magically make things any different. It doesn’t matter that a diagnosis won’t even necessarily open the doors to more support.
If a doctor didn’t observe it, it didn’t happen.
3.5 years ago, a psychologist referred me for a diagnosis because she said it would be helpful to know how my brain functioned before we started treatment for my PTSD. At the time, waiting lists for autism were a year and EMDR took 18 months, so I should have had my diagnosis in plenty of time for therapy.
EMDR came and went (and didn’t work for the record), but I was still patiently waiting and waiting for someone to tell me I had an appointment for an assessment. The rest of this story is long (3.5 years long to be precise), but the end result was that I waited and waited and waited. Even when the assessment process started, I still had to wait longer than others I know to get an answer.
I had Schrodinger’s Autism. Neither autistic or not-autistic until a medic observed me.
Finally, on Monday I got the call to tell me what I already knew. I wasn’t “just” different, “just” a bit weird, “just” a loner, “just” gifted, “just” too much of an individual. I officially have a disability which makes me who I am.
In many ways, my autism is a superpower. I know it’s what enables me to process information super fast. It gives me my creative thinking and it’s forced me to come up with solutions to problems most people don’t have, which has helped me be a better person in the long run.
But oh, it’s been a long and lonely road getting here.
So this is a shout out to all the weird and wonderful people out there, all the ones who know that they’re not quite like other people but can’t necessarily say why. The ones who, like me until recently, have Schrodinger’s Neurodiversity.
I see you. I love you.
And I know you’re one of us.