A Lifelong Discovery: Autism-Am I Autistic? and Why it Matters.
It started when I was 15 in June 2012. But of course, evidence can be found throughout my life. So I was searching through articles about INTJs, when I stumbled across one comparing the similarities between Aspergers and INTJs. An inquisitive child that I am, I searched up “Aspergers” on the Internet. VOILA! And it hit me-I have Aspergers!
Well, actually, not quite: here why. But lets continue the story first. Since Grade 9, I knew I was different. But the question was in what way. At least half of my elementary school friends were people possessing Autism; I could actually relate to them, see through their eyes. And to my surprise, and relief, Aspergers was supposedly a form of Autism.
So I had autism... And taking a test on Aspergers resulted in it defining me as “Very likely an Aspie”. In fact, I scored 160 out of 200 for being an Aspie, and only 43/200 as an NT, the graph provided even shows me mostly on the Aspie side.
And being so demanding and arrogant, I continued to research. I view pages and opinions and essays regarding the definitions of Aspies, what classifies people as being one, traits of Neurotypicals, correlations between INTJs and Aspies. There are reasons why my first sites showed that I may possess aspergers: Similarities btwn me and Aspies, and there are a lot, include: Stimming, Lack of Eye contact, Thinking in Pictures (visual thinking), Possessing few friendships (in fact, I only carry one friendship from Primary to Secondary), extreme narrow interests, high intelligences in one specific subject (transit), sound sensitivity, most aspies not getting diagnosed until late teens, not participating in social situations, extreme stage frighteness, difficulty with verbal instructions, not understanding idioms and sarcasm and liking structure.
But many things in the world come in cycles, or circles, and here was one that I beared in mind throughout my investigation: I started out (for 15 years) thinking: No, I do not have autism, then suddenly believing yes, but again thinking no. Truth be told, I really wanted to be an Asperger. It was only right that I have autism after all the commotion I experienced in primary, my great differences from peers of my age.
Yet on second discovery, though all those similarities, there was something (or 2 things) that really contrasted me from true Aspies. First, here is what I concluded: No, I do not possess Aspergers, but I have “Autistic Traits”. Through reading more analyses on the comparisons between NT’s and Auties, how people may misdiagnose themselves as possessing Aspergers, there was the main difference between people who think they Aspergers, and true legitimate positives. Here it is: There are people who cannot make friendships, cannot communicate, cannot understand facial expressions; and the people who voluntarily, or by choice, choose to stay away from conversations, who have the ability to make friendships but procrastinate and don’t, who have structure because it looks good in front of others, act dumb as if I don’t know who Justin Bieber is. . At this stage, I was the 2nd type, the one that voluntarily acts like an Aspie, so therefore, I was not a true positive.
But as cycles come and go, I found yet more info and professional opinion, and after some soul searching, I concluded that the answer must be yes. The problem, as with all autistics, is that there is no proper diagnosis or prevailing symptom. My opinion, to make it clear, is that there is NO cause. Nothing can ‘make you’ autistic, similarly to how nothing can ‘make you’ as smart as Einstein, and like how there is no cause for extroverts. You are born with it. And with the vaguity in diagnosis, the fact that I fit much of the criteria must mean that I am an Aspie. At least I thought...
There is the notion that I have seemed to gotten more autistic as time has gone by, I seem to have removed myself from communication and attachment to other humans. Time will tell if I have actually become more autistic through my teenage years. I have finally settled on the final conclusion that I still hold to this day (3 ½ months later): NO, I do not possess Autistic Disorder.
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And that was a long buildup! But my rationale for writing this is not to advertise my discovery of whether not I am an Aspie, but to explain ability to see through the eyes of both Neurotypicals and Auties. I must first clarify the terminology: “having Autistic Spectrum Disorder” is different than “being Autistic”. Everyone is Autistic to some degree: everyone has Autism, but most are not severe enough to warrant it as Autistic Diagnosis. It’s just that the people with more, or higher severity of Autism will be diagnosed as having “Autistic Spectrum Disorder”.
Here’s an example:
1) There’s times when a sudden noise was too loud for your ears. You would want to cover your ears.
2) There’s times when you are deep in thought, (usually fixating your eyes down) and suddenly your friend says that he called you several times and you didn’t answer. This is called tuning out: to embed your mind in your thoughts, caring not for what’s being said and happening around you. People with autism tune out not because they don’t want to listen, but because they can’t help it. Many times they have thought of a long formula and don’t want to be distracted, focusing all their attention on their thoughts, and forgetting that they are hungry.
3) There have been times when you suddenly had a sensation of joy, possibly laughed out loud, maybe because you thought of a funny sentence, or saw a funny picture in your mind, with the surrounding people having no idea why you were smiling. Sometimes, these sensations come from nowhere, you suddenly feel happy and excited, and want to jump and yell “I’m happy! HAHAHA, GRR!”
Yet these 3 are normalities for people diagnosed with ASDs. When Imagine this happening every minute of everyday. They tune out because all the noise around them is too loud or distracting, and they cover their ears. While they cover their ears, a happy thought jumps into the mind, maybe they just saw a cake, and imagined a cake baking in the oven, and laughed at the time when cookie dough spilt all over their hands when they were baking. And with these 3 simple events, linking them is seeing what people with ASDs experience every minute. Yet these traits are not limited to people on the Spectrum, “normal” people, with the 3 descriptions above, also experience the Autistic Mind, just to a lesser degree and much less frequently.
Which is what I provide: A vivid look into the Autistic Mind by describing to “normal” people what they are feeling. This is why I can do it: I, through the long story above, am autistic. I’m just not diagnosed as possessing ASDs, but I can reproduce the Autistic Mind.
Disregarding the structure in this write up, but here’s a side note. I don’t consider myself being on the Spectrum because: I voluntarily act autistic. This means, if I pay attention to things that Autistics would (ie. annoying sounds, “dark” movie theatres, the rain) I can actually act very much like a person with PDD-NOS. I would have no problem living that way: I would be able to think about anything I wish to think about, move my hands freely (I love stimming), without needing to speak a word to anyone, and I am capable of doing just that (being Autistic). But I do not wish to live a life less than my ability: I have the ability to engage in conversation, detect facial expressions, filter out sound, act normal can calm in fire drills, and so it is my duty to be as normal as possible. But I bear in mind the fact that at any moment, I can switch off my normal behavior, and act Autistic at any time. It is for this reason that I engage in autistic behavior so often, because in unstructured, unjudging environments (eg: in the park alone), I will be autistic, you will not be able to speak to me, because I will be tuned out, stimming, thinking, jumping, screaming.
The fact that I can act autistic is something that all normal people can do. If they pay attention to what people with ASDs look at, normal people (like me) can act just like a person with ASD. It just comes more naturally to act like a person with ASD than most other normal people. It doesn’t take as much work compared to others to act like an ASD, I can see their minds at any instant. Through this ability, I can and will in many occasions, “look through the eyes of someone with Autism”. Because I have Autism, or at least more severe than most normal people. And when I feel what the autistics are feeling, I can just multiply the sensation that I get, recreating the exact feeling that the person with ASD is getting. Just that most people with ASDs aren’t able to describe to normal people what their feeling. So in conclusion, this is who I am: An (Autistic) “normal” person who can see through the eyes of someone with ASD, and describe what they are thinking and feeling to “normal” people.