Ode to Joy

A snail shell with a gradient of pink to sea green as the spiral opens out on a lush green leaf

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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