As a child, and well into my 20s, I’d become ‘overexcited’, spinning in circles on the hardwood living room floor in front of my parents, flapping my hands with excitement, dancing in circles, sliding side-to-side. I’d scream and cry when certain sounds came on the TV, and have ‘tantrums’ when my shoes didn’t feel right or I had to wear certain materials. Someone actually took a picture of one of my meltdowns over ill-fitting shoes.
My autism wasn’t acknowledged throughout my life, until just recently. My mother was once told I was autistic by doctors, but she chose not to believe it and said to me “you’re ARTistic, Charlie”. That was one of my many nicknames.
I still have these moments. Now I don’t feel ashamed of them, or believe that I must act ‘normal’, or neurotypical. I’m much better when it comes to clothing now, but that’s mainly because I can choose my own. A nose tic that I’ve had all of my life is no longer a mystery, as many people with autism have tics. Everything has fallen into place due to a couple of observant professionals. I can’t be thankful enough.
Even though my autism diagnosis wasn’t acknowledged in my younger years, I ended up in special education. It was the right kind of education for me. I thrived there. Not everyone learns the same. I process slowly, and at the new alternative school, I didn’t have to listen to lectures. I basically got to choose my own courses and they were mostly to deal with abnormal psychology.
I have lived my life acknowledging that I was probably an “Aspie”, on and off. Until one day a sociologist said, “You’re autistic, aren’t you?” I was blown away. Surely I didn’t seem autistic, did I? Was I using the same dreaded stereotypes that I now work hard to debunk?
My point is, special is amazing. If you are a parent with an autistic child, I hope you realize that. If you are autistic, I also hope you realize that.