Feature By Aspling: Growing up Undiagnosed

Introduction:

Welcome back everyone! For this post I am excited to be featuring Aspling who writes about experiences of late diagnoses and advocates heavily for better services for autistic adults.

 

I write here from my own experiences. However, this of is of course through my lens. That is why it is important to share the experiences of others who have had a different road with their autism journey. I am someone who was diagnosed in my early childhood. Being that I was on the front end of when autism started to become more understood, I didn’t have the same resources there are now. I also did not tell many people about my diagnosis because it was so unknown. I did not want doors shut before I had the opportunity to try. Even the few people I told had no idea what autism was. And to be honest, neither did I. However, because of the diagnoses I was able to receive accommodations that I may not otherwise have gotten. Throughout my early childhood I carried many diagnoses until neurologists finally put the pieces together and realized I had ASD. I think this is why for me personally, I always think of myself as “someone with autism” because my diagnosis was simply something that was a part of me, like having brown eyes. But for those of us who are diagnosed later in life, there are different struggles. Once they finally know that they are autistic, it is something that brings clarity.

 

There is an extreme lack of resources for those that are diagnosed later in life or even those of us with early diagnoses that are transitioning into adulthood. Services are lacking. Period. This is one such story from Aspling. I want to thank Aspling for sharing these experiences and bringing awareness to the services we still need.

 

Featured Post by Aspling

My name is Aspling and I am autistic. Let’s be honest here, when you think of Autism you generally think about children with adults being an afterthought, and in terms of support this is the same. I was diagnosed in 2017 at the age of 25, and for me, my diagnosis came as a relief. I’d spent my teenage years feeling lost, like an outcast, always on the edge. In myself I knew I was different, but I couldn’t identify how or why. Like myself, many adults are receiving a late diagnosis, one hypothesis for this is the idea of camouflaging; something that has been brought to light over the past two years. Researchers identified that many autistics camouflage, this means masking behaviours to better fit in with culture and society. It is said to be a distinct trait of women and girls on the spectrum, however, it has been recognised that boys and men also mask.

 

I don’t remember much from my early childhood. I was a fussy eater and to this day I still am. Next came the obsessions and collections, specifically my little pony and nailbrushes in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. I also had sensory difficulties, which resulted in my barbie dolls having no feet, as I’d spend hours chewing them off, as an adult I’ve switched to munching on ice cubes, which may seem strange, but it gives me sensory pleasure. I was a rigid child, in the sense that I needed routine, and any changes sent me through the roof. I’d meltdown over the smallest things – one I can recall is the seam on socks, school mornings were hellish for not only me, but my entire family, as I’d scream and shout over a pair of socks. As a child my parents just thought I was normal, and as a young child we managed.

 

For me growing up was difficult, looking back I would say I masked a lot of the time, mostly because I didn’t quite fit in and I longed to. I had friends in high school, and I could hold a conversation, however I was very literal and couldn’t pick up on social cues, and eye contact was a big no no for me. As a teenager I knew I was different, I was the weird girl in my friend group, and I felt lost, like I didn’t know who I was. I had anxiety issues, I was bullied at school and I was behind academically. I struggled in high school on multiple fronts, and because I didn’t have a label or a piece of paper I had no support. I struggled maintaining friends, I struggled with my work load and I struggled with my anxiety, and over the years as the pressure mounted I found myself unable to cope. I had days where my emotions got the better of me and I’d spend the morning crying; refusing to attend school. One subject in particular I dreaded, I was failing, even though trying my best, and I had zero support from anyone. I didn’t fail, but I didn’t get an amazing or even decent mark, I scrapped by, relying on my parents. I honestly wish I had been diagnosed earlier, that way I could have pushed for the support I really needed, instead I had to struggle. I was one of the cases which fell through the cracks. I was crying out and no one noticed.

 

My parents didn’t think anything of my odd behaviour, and at the time I don’t think they had a full understanding of Autism. Around the time of my diagnosis my mum was working for a local special educational needs service, so her understanding of autism grew. A few years earlier husband received his own diagnosis of Asperger’s. Eventually I pushed for a diagnosis, which as an adult is much harder. Traits aren’t as apparent, and people think ‘well you’ve coped this far’. My diagnosis was a relief as I had a reason for all my difficulties and deficits, however I still have no support network in place. As an adult I can say that there is a lack of services, and this is something that needs to change. All the attention is focused on children, which don’t get me wrong, early intervention is needed just as much, but for the autistic adults out there who are struggling support services are vital. Once you have that magical piece of paper the world sees you differently, however, it’s finding support which is the issue, and I’m hoping in the future this will change to accommodate adults as well as children. Many of the resources are aimed at children, with adults struggling on a daily basis, so honestly, yeah, I wish I had been diagnosed earlier.

 

For more information about Aspling and their advocacy work please visit:

Website: Aspling-Girl on the Spectrum

Twitter: @asplingspectrum

 

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