From a young age, I was aware I was different from other people. I was also sure I was an alien. Kids at school often commented on the things I did they thought were weird. A few examples:
- I stared at things for long periods of time, completely losing myself in whatever it was that caught my attention.
- I guarded all of my belongings, afraid of people touching my stuff or setting it out of place.
- I studied things such as the grain of wood, the reflection of light upon objects, and the various shapes of television knobs.
- I preferred to play alone, unless I had complete control over what was played and how it was played.
- I was very sensitive to smells, certain sounds, visual distractions, and tactile stimulation.
- I had great difficulty understanding how to complete my schoolwork.
In order to make it in the world, I forced myself to record and store actions and responses I felt were normal. But behind the mask I created, was my real world--a place where I could be safely be me. A place where I did not have to answer questions like, "What's wrong with you?" or "Why do you stare at things like that?" or "Why are you so weird?
The DSM did not include a diagnosis of Asperger's until 1994. Numerous late-diagnosed autistics have been previously misdiagnosed with other conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or schizophrenia.
Due to current public education and awareness, more autistic individuals are being diagnosed.
If you suspect you may be on the autism spectrum, and you wish to be evaluated, choose a diagnostician with care. Unfortunately, the current diagnostic criteria does fully capture how autism may appear in adults. Sadly, there are a lot of clinicians and therapists who are still in the dark when it comes to diagnosing autism--especially in females. For example, an uneducated clinician or doctor may rigidly insist that to be diagnosed on the autism spectrum you must not have any friendships. This is an unfortunate assumption. Being an introvert is one thing, having no friends is another.
No two autistics are exactly alike: if you've met one person on the autism spectrum, you've met one person on the autism spectrum.
Click here to take an online test where you may receive an Autism-Spectrum Quotient score. Though this test is an interesting tool for self-awareness, it does not replace an evaluation by a licensed professional, such as a neuro-psychologist or a psychiatrist.