April 5, 2019: When did you first realize that you were autistic?

It was 4:32pm on August 12th….

KIDDING.  I literally forget my own age, I’m not going to remember the exact moment.  But I can give you a little more than just sarcasm today.

It goes back to the diagnosis of my youngest, which happened when he was 18 months old.  He was the first in the family to receive formal diagnosis.  Then his older brother’s diagnosis happened a few years later, and my husband and I really started to get a better understanding of the ways in which autistic people can be so very different and yet have many similar traits. We started to look at our own lives and those of our extended family members, as well as my older two sons.

As I look back across my life, so many moments come into better focus and make more sense when I apply the autism filter.  I’ve spent enough time listing those things off for people in defense of my self-identification that I have finally reached a point of saying “look, it’s not really my problem if you don’t believe me”.  So many adults self-identify as autistic that I’m not interested in selling the concept to anyone.  Just know that within the last two years, I have finally begun to feel like I understand who I am and why I am.  I can understand why I so often say things that people think are weird.  I can’t seem to stop myself from doing that, but at least I am no longer uncomfortable with it.  I no longer turn bright red when people laugh, nor do my eyes well up with tears. I’ve built a resilience to any teasing that comes my way. Not to mention that I now work in a place where generally speaking I don’t get teased.  People there seem to accept me for who I am, and that really goes a long way towards feeling okay with myself.

This year I will turn 45.  And yet I feel finally that I am building the confidence that I need and I am starting to tear down the anxiety which so often tries to tear ME down.  And like many other adults who self-identify, I finally feel like me.  It’s a pretty incredible feeling.

I will always say weird things.  And I will always look for rainbows.  And I will probably always struggle to understand what people are feeling when I look at them (but will typically soak up what other people are feeling as though I were a sponge). And I will always feel better when things are ordered and neat (yet will always have a certain amount of my own clutter).  And I will swing on the swingset and ride a carousel happily, and stim when I need to.  And I will not hide any of that from people.  This is me.  This is #autismacceptance2019 .

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