Ode to Joy2 min read

Autism is such a broad and new sub­ject. It wears many faces, expres­sions, emo­tions, hin­drances, and gifts. There are types not acknowl­edged for­mally and people who fall through the cracks. I know this, and yet still it baf­fles me.

Somehow I man­aged to live twenty-five years without any ther­a­pist, school coun­selor, teacher or parent real­izing what was going on, but I cannot bring myself to be angry at anyone. How could they know some­thing I could not? Admittedly, my mile­stones as a baby and an infant were not delayed.

I excelled at reading and writing com­pre­hen­sion, scoring as high as a junior in high school while only in the fifth grade. My mask is a series of layers, like toma­toes sliced thin enough to see the blade on the other side but con­densed so tightly that each trans­parent layer makes an opaque wall.

My stims were aber­ra­tions not per­mitted to see the light of day (my out-of-control one is tongue-sucking, which I have done since I needed a paci­fier.) Meltdowns are quiet and only noticed from puffy eye bags and are to be reme­died by waking up early enough to douse my face in cold water.

Every word is thought out before­hand, and they are pre­cise. I can barely account for what I cannot see looking into the eyes of friends and family, let alone account for haz­ardous, arro­gant, igno­rant word­play I may let slip.

My schooling suf­fered because of my anxiety-driven demand avoid­ance, and I missed one day a week min­imum. I felt use­less. If I felt mere depres­sion and anx­iety, why couldn’t I take my med­ica­tion and be better? The years fol­lowing the death of my obses­sion, my grand­mother, broke me. In my child­like mind, she was the Eden in which I existed, and from which I was cast at her death. It has been twelve years and still here I cry.

But please do not be upset or mis­take this as mourning, because there are many dif­ferent ways I can repeat this story in any dif­ferent under­tone. My life, col­ored with Autism is sur­real, effec­tive, fast. I love too much but it is better than not loving at all. It took me twenty-five years and the real­iza­tion of my patho­log­ical demand avoid­ance (PDA) to be okay.

Under tremen­dous anx­iety and despite self-sabotage, I have become an artist. My neu­ro­log­ical obses­sion with role play and fan­tasy have allowed me to express myself with such dis­tinc­tion. I have a drive and a focus only matched by other Aspies, and if I can make any­thing out of myself, I have a spe­cific niche to profit from.

I am unsure of whom I would be without Autism, but I love the way I expe­ri­ence life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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