I have been thinking a lot lately. Now, wait I know that is normal for me, but hear me out. I have been thinking a lot lately about how it seems now that I am undeniably an adult all the things that should have been taken care of when I was a child are finally being taken care of. Like having a tonsillectomy in 2008. And now getting my TMJ addressed. And being told when Avery had his autism evaluation that I should get evaluated as well.
I do have many of the markers of Asperger's syndrome. Of course, come May with the release of the DSM-5 Asperger's will no longer be a unique diagnosis, and will be "Mild Autism". But what does this mean for me, and what good would having an Autism diagnosis do me in my Thirties? How has autistic characteristics shaped my life?
I was a normal little girl once, or at least that is what I have been told. I don't really remember it. Everyone always says that I started out a very happy child, social and full of fun. I lost my hearing at age 3 due to chronic ear infections, but was able to regain most of it before it could cause any problems with speech. I have always wondered why they never gave me tubes, since I continued to have chronic ear infections well into adulthood. This might be tied to having Menire's disease, but I think I will never know. The only thing I do remember about the early years of my life is being amazed at how high the piles of snow in the apartment parking lot were the year we lived in Wisconsin. And being locked into a footlocker by the two older boys that always wanted to play with me. Therapists have often asked if I think I was sexually molested by them, or someone else, but the memories are gone.
I do remember bits and pieces of things that happened when I was between the ages of five and seven, but it has always felt as distant as if it had happened in a past life. I know I had good friends, but that I could never play outside of school because of my father's alcoholism. I know I spent way to much time at the Bar with him, or at Dairy Mart with my mother. I very clearly remember the physical threats and having things thrown at me when my father was in a drunk rage. My parents always denied that my father was violent with me. But the fact that I do have a nearly eidetic of places and things I read and saw and can describe in vivid detail when I let myself think about those three years.
My concept of self, and who I am begins at the age of eight. I was going through physical and mental changes. My parents were divorcing and my mother and I moved in with my Grandparents. I had gained weight, was beginning puberty and was very self conscious of the results of hormonal changes on my body. I wanted to escape to a fantasy world, and was obsessed with Oz above all other fantasy literature. I knew I was suffering from Manic Depression. I read about it after recognizing that my thoughts and behavior were similar to both my father and my grandfather who both had diagnosis. I was well aware that being suicidal at age 8 was highly unusual and that my inner fantasy world was illogical.
Read that again....I was well aware that being suicidal at age 8 was highly unusual and that my inner fantasy world was illogical. I was like a mini-adult. Logic and reason was constantly at war with the urges and delusions. I became obsessed with the human condition. Anthropology, psychology, religion, history, and philosophy I had to know everything about. By the time I was thirteen I had mapped out in my head a path for education and continual learning that involved wanting to get five Doctorates!
At this stage of my life I think it is clear that my single minded obsession with knowing humanity would be a red flag for someone screening for autism spectrum.
To be continued....