This wasn’t something I ever thought I would actually write, nor something I even know how to begin if I’m honest. I am autistic. That statement alone has loads of ideas and theories of what I am like running through your head. I can almost guarantee that not many of them are accurate. I can also tell you that although, yes, this is a story about my experience with autism this will not be the same for everyone who lives with autism.
As far as autism goes I am what would be classified as low on the spectrum. I am able to communicate, I am able to engage in social situations and I can engage in every day life. In fact the majority of people I meet are ‘shocked’ or ‘never would have known’ I have autism. In some ways I guess this makes me feel proud to be able to deal with the struggles I face inside daily enough that I can have what people would classify as a normal life. The other part of me is angered by this, why does autism have to look one way or another? What about someone defines them of having autism or acting like they have autism? This also makes it harder for people to understand. Just because I can give you eye contact most of the time and communicate with you and am not flapping my arms or spinning around all the time doesn’t mean that there are not still things about every day that I don’t struggle with. Now before I delve into what life with autism is like for me it is worth noting that I didn’t have the best childhood, and I know that much of this has resulted in some of the struggles which I have had to deal with whilst growing up and some of this may spill over with my autistic traits or be why I struggled with them as much as I did whilst growing up.
The first sign that I ever really identified within myself was my extreme hyper fixation. I have always overly attached to things and when I was younger I believed this was just part of my coping mechanism for things with my parents or how I was feeling. As I have got older I began to realise how it wasn’t ‘normal’. I began to think I was crazy, couldn’t understand why I was so obsessed with things and everyone around me didn’t seem controlled by the things they enjoyed. The first thing I remember fixating on was the film the lion king when I was 6 years old. I needed everything lion king. I would watch it all the time, I had my simba teddy which came everywhere with me. I couldn’t sleep without him, in fact I still have him now although I have moved on from needing him. I had the lion king lampshade, toys, sega game anything I could convince my mother to get me. I even needed the magazine which came out regularly, one of those ones where you collect different things each time and build up a collection. I couldn’t handle not getting it on the day that it came out. Following this the next thing I remember becoming immersed in was the girl group atomic kitten. This was one of my worse ones ever. It controlled my life for years. My whole bedroom was filled with posters and pictures from every magazine they were in, including my sloping celling. I had to buy a magazine even if it only had the smallest picture of them in it as I needed to add it to my collection. I recorded everything that they were in and I hated having to go out somewhere and missing a programme that they were on and would have to record the whole show and it was all I could think about whilst I was out. Every time a CD was released I had to have it on the day it was released and I had to have both copies if there were more than one, which there normally was. They were all I listened to and I couldn’t stop a song part way through or skip it once it had started. I listened to the charts and if they didn’t get number one it would physically upset me. When they split I was broken, I was convinced that after a year, like they said, they would come back together and things would be right. Even now 10 or so years later I am still not sure I am over this fixation. But I have moved on, on to something new that is. Hyperfixation was worse the older I got, when I started earning my own money. Especially if I was having a particularly bad day I will go online and search for things which I can watch, listen to or purchase relating to whatever my current fixation is. Right now I have two, a tv show called Castle and the marvel Iron Man story. Over the last few years it has occurred to me that the things I tend to fixate on as an adult have a strong female character within whom have been through bad things in their past and end up coming out on top and with the love of their life too. Namely the obsessions have been with Sara for CSI, Meridith Grey from greys anatomy, Kate Beckett from Castle and Pepper Potts from Iron Man. Sometimes I know I’m becoming obsessed but I cannot seem to stop myself, to prevent it. I have learnt to control it more as I have got older but it this is one f my biggest struggles, shutting out my obsession long enough to focus on every day life. Its a challenge not to immerse myself 24 hours a day. For everyone in my life that has to deal with my constant babbling and discussions and everything else that comes with my obsession…I am truly sorry! But this is me.