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Author: Charles Simmins

How I Came to Be Autistic

I was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum at the age of 59. I was recovering from my first major depressive episode and my personal physician and my therapist both thought that I may be autistic, on the spectrum as what was once called Aspergers. I was sent for testing. That consisted of a number of interviews by a psychologist. My younger sister was also interviewed about my early childhood, behaviors and experiences. They would have interviewed my parents had either been alive at that point. I took a multiple choice test consisting of 350 or so questions. Some made no sense, others went to the heart of social or employment issues. In the end, the multi-page report concluded that I was on the spectrum. What did that mean for me? Since then, the last three years, I have been working to identify those behaviors that are hardwired, autistic. I have had another major depressive episode, far more severe. Most of the adaptations that I used to keep my emotions under control have vanished. I have begun stimming, and had several meltdowns. It sounds bad. It is not. It is all part of the process of learning who I am, what my strengths and weaknesses are, and how I react to the world around me. The diagnosis was like getting a new beginning, a rebirth. I’m, in essence, three years old in many ways. I am looking forward to the next twenty years. Let’s see what the new and…

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What Is Autism to Me

In the sidebar, under the I Have Questions topic is a page with some “official” definitions of autism. The problem is, to me, that defining the medical condition seems to require a permanent label for the patient. And, labels are limited as a description. There are two primary schools of thought with respect to autism. Many people see it as a disability, a disaster for the patient and their family, and requiring “curing” and determination of a cause. Many adults on the spectrum, including me, would disagree strongly. Autism is a condition based upon a different “wiring” in the human brain. Some abilities and traits are enhanced while others are altered, changed from “normal”. We’re just not typical humans. What is wrong with being atypical? Should autistics be forced into behaviors that they are not wired to perform with ease? Children on the autism spectrum, with a loving family and wise professional care, can grow up to be adults with abilities and talents, can hold jobs, and have a social life. Their life may not appear to be mainstream, or “normal”, but they are happy, productive, valuable members of a diverse society.

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