This post marks the 100th post on this blog. It is something of an achievement to have got to 100 posts on this project. I thank my readers for prevailing. It has certainly been a journey of discovery from when I started this blog back in 2013 before being confirmed as an Âûtistic. I am happy to have emerged from that journey of discovery as proud Autistic man.
A journey that started with a sense of fear and trepidation of what it might mean to be an Autistic person. An internal journey that asked the question of who am I, no really, who really am I? Analysing and assessing the things I did the way I thought. The legacy of having two autistic children. It really was a moment of choice. A moment that asked of me, what have you got in you? Have you got it in you? An question that really at the very crux of it, asked, do you believe in you Richard?
At the other end of this journey I can say with confidence that the answer is yes. I believe in me. I believe that I am fine just the way I am. Yes I am different and you know what, it doesn’t matter. It wasn’t always that way so easily.
I had walked a journey, in a sense through the valley of the shadow of death as the famous Psalm 23 says. But I did fear some evil for a time. I feared much at times. There were times where taking it on internally was a feeling and a notion within that said, in an almost accusatory way look what you have done, Richard, you have brought this on your children. You have given them a life of difficulty, disability and problems. There was this scary element of taking on responsibility of what have I inflicted on my kids?
Thankfully this dark period was reasonably short lived. I do believe it was a necessary part of the journey. It really was, I don’t believe my true acceptance of my being Âûtistic would have been either possible or authentic without it. To rewind, back to the start of this blog. It started in an internal thought process that was in a sense an acknowledgement, that there was enough evidence in front of me to accept the likelihood that most likely I could say with some confidence that I was not Neurotypical, that No Way could this be true, hence the name of the blog in it’s original form on the WordPress Servers. For nostalgia here is the first post. Be kind, I have not, as I write this revisited this post. I am hopeful it is readable and intelligible enough to comprehend.
Reflecting back I recall the overall underlying feeling within me was in fact a feeling of hopefulness. A hopefulness that I would somehow after 40 odd years of life have some kind of answer as to who I was, what made me tick, why this pervasive internal dialogue that had always made me feel different and oftentimes broken would be answered. I devoured the information I could find online. I made contact with the couple of Âûtistic adults I knew. I found online tests and completed them. I talked with my daughters therapist. I was hopeful and expectant. An answer was out there and I was going to find it.
The online tests were quite conclusive. I found the Aspie Quiz, a bunch of tests at Aspergers Tests, and the one over at the rdos.net site. All of them concluded the same thing – Likely Neurodiverse. I had some inkling of the concept of self-diagnosis but I had not really got much info in that regard. I was looking for confirmation. Within myself there was certainly a narrative that went something like – you need that professional to tell you, to confirm it.
After some missteps I found someone who was able to see me not too far into the distant future and had some expertise in diagnosing adults as well as children. I got my appointment and got myself prepared. I was ready for this.
Well so I thought!
The appointment happened, and then disaster. Employment meltdown. No Job. No funds. No report with no funds.
An interlude of about 18 months before a gift of funds to pay for the assessment came in. Another visit to the professional and a confirmation.
A surprising shock. That was unexpected. It really was, I recall sitting there thinking to myself as the professionals words washed over me thinking why am I shocked? You already knew this. You shouldn’t be surprised.
A few months of thinking not great thoughts about it all. A few months that were punctuated with a sense of brokenness, a sense I was less, or wrong and incomplete. Amidst this time was a frenetic family life with an extra teenager in the house for a few months, a daughter completing high school and an unplanned house move.
Then came April this year. World Autism
Awareness Acceptance Month. The discovery of Amythest Schaber’s Ask an Autistic Series. I discovered some others too, some wonderful Autistic Advocates, that changed the narrative in my head back from less to different. It was a wonderful transition back. It is interesting to me that before I was diagnosed formally I had maintained a difference not less idea, yet fell into a less idea in the immediate aftermath of diagnosis.
I am so happy to have met, whether in person or online so many wonderful Autistic advocates, I mention a few here in no particular order of preference or importance. And apologies to any I have missed there is no intention to do so, this is a bunch of names that are in my head in this moment in time: Emma Dalmayne, Fiona O’Leary, John Greally, Tina Richardson, Joanne Dacombe, Jeanette Purkis, Bryan Chandler, Sarah Widdup, Tori Haar, Sarah Hansford, Penny Robinson, Penë Rice, Tony Langdon, Beck Kelly…
There are so many this is just a sprinkling. I am so happy to have met and connected to so many wonderful Âûtistic people and to join the wonderful Âûtistic community. It is a privilege and an honour to be a part of it. Thank you for including me. I look forward to a lifelong connection in this wonderful and awesome community, and I look forward to continued connection and involvement with the parents of Autistic children and having a positive impact on their lives and hope to show them that this Autism thing is not a death sentence, not a losing of anything but the gaining of a wonderful neurodiverse experience of life.
Thank you for hanging in there for these 100 posts. I look forward to journeying with you over the next century of posts.