Like many autistic women out there, I grew up knowing that I wasn’t quite the same as everyone else, but being gaslit into believing that it wasn’t really something wrong with me, I just wasn’t trying hard enough. I had teachers and my parents trying to drag me through pretty much all of the stereotypical misdiagnoses for autism but none of them ever really quite stuck.
My first brush with one of the potential misdiagnoses was in third grade when my teacher recommended to my mom that they get me assessed for what was then called ADD. I came out of that assessment without a diagnosis because I don’t match the diagnostic criteria for ADHD (I lucked out in missing that comorbidity) but that was when they decided to go ahead and assess me for “giftedness” so from there on, I was always in Gifted and Talented classes (and I guess better behaved in school, who knows?).
My first snag on the potential of the Autism label for myself was the first time I did the Autism screener and I had way more than the high boundary of the Autism traits. But, y’know, this is America, and I didn’t have health insurance anyway, so I just set that aside in a little box in my brain for some other day. That was going to be future me’s problem.
Got married, had a kid, then my kid turns two and I’m worried about her talking, I start noticing other red flags. I start analyzing her behavior, and thinking about my own behavior. My mom tells me stories about how I was delayed in talking when I was little (somehow she never told me this before?). That, just like my own daughter, I never spoke, and then when I did, suddenly I spoke in full sentences. That sure would have been helpful to know when my 2 year old wasn’t quite meeting the total number of words she should have known by 2.
Through learning about her, I learned about myself, and that brought me to the internet like pretty much everything else does and I found a ton of information, but so very little for women and girls on the spectrum. I could find things, but they were few and far between. After some time, this led to me wanting to take what I have learned, gather it up, and start sharing both knowledge and my experiences to try to provide a place for others out there like myself to find a little bit of themselves to not feel quite as alone and lost as I did for most of my life.
There was a massive surge of relief upon realizing that I wasn’t some strange thing just mildly reminiscent of a human. I have felt like a chameleon all of my life. I never really get to be myself in any situation. I go into each new situation and all anyone knows about me is that I am quiet. And then I get to know my surroundings and then I know enough to blend in and this entire personality develops so that I can exist in this situation.
I will be on a phone call with a client talking to him about his sons’ football games as if football is the light of my life even though I couldn’t care less about football. I can and will pick up the ways of any tribe I wander in to and fly their colors so that I can just glide through the experience without anyone really noticing that I was there. It is generally effective for what it is meant to do, make casual acquaintances and work life effective. No one really thinks I’m super strange and I can succeed at work. But it is definitely exhausting, isolating, and near impossible to make any kind of lasting friendship when you are always playing an act.
Beyond the autistic fun, I am somewhat stereotypical in that I am in a technical career (cybersecurity is my personal jam). I like building computers, I do play PC games, though not as much with a young kid up in my life. I have two dogs who I like to take hiking, want to get more into kayaking.
I do entirely too much reading or entirely too little reading, there is never an in between. I either read like 30 novels in a month or I read no fiction in like a year. So, if you’ve got any good book recommendations, I’m down to hear them. Pretty much any genre, but scifi/fantasy is, of course, at the top of my list.