If there was a medical cure for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), I would not take if it meant giving up the bright side to my ASD.
Up until a few months ago, I unknowingly lived with ASD all my life. ASD is like fire in that it is a double-edged sword. Fire can burn a home down, but it can warm one too. ASD has its dark side of social challenges, sensory overload, meltdowns, etc. However, it has its bright side. If I wasn’t on the spectrum, I might not have the passion of writing and something to write about. It is indeed fulfilling and a privilege to share my own stories and those of children on the spectrum I have the privilege of helping as a substitute teacher’s aide.
I first suspected I was on the spectrum by observing the behavior of a student whose behavior was so much like my own that a light bulb went off in my head. It prompted me to do the on-line research and take the AQ test, RAADS-R, RDOS, etc. The on-line test results had the same results of my being highly likely autistic. During this time, I had my regular visit to my family doctor and confided in him. We went over the pros and cons of a professional diagnosis and it was decided not to pursue it. The medication I was on was helping me tremendously with anxiety issues. Since I was doing fine, I didn’t pursue it and he didn’t encourage it.
Three months later, I saw my doctor again for a check-up. I brought up ASD and it was like starting over again. He asked what made me think I had ASD. That surprised me since he asked me that same question three months ago. I showed him a printed-out chart of common female Asperger traits and had highlighted in yellow those traits I saw in myself. I’ll just say the sheet of paper was decked in yellow!
I came away from this appointment feeling let down. I was bothered at what I perceived as skepticism in his face. I think the jury may be still out in his mind; whereas, the verdict for me is in. But I have to keep in mind that my reading of facial expressions doesn’t have a good track record.
I was disappointed he didn’t mention the t-shirt I was wearing with the words: AUTISM: understand, accept, and love. I am so proud of that shirt. I wore it thinking he would at least mention it. It was given to me by a teacher of the student who, in a way, told me I was on the spectrum. But I have to keep in mind that emotional sensitivity is one of my ASD traits too.
If the doctor could observe me in my hours spent alone, while rocking or pacing the floor or having one of my meltdowns, I think the verdict might be in for him too. I read a quote that said those who aren’t on the spectrum can’t fully understand it and those who are can’t fully explain it. I think that is true. When I tried to describe one of my meltdowns to the doctor, my words just didn’t come out right. I can describe such while talking to myself. I could probably give a good speech about it standing at a podium in front of any number of people. But it is in a conversation where I find myself at a loss for words or stumbling over them. Maybe if I hadn’t made eye contact I’d had done better. HA!
If I could say to him what I wanted to say it would be that I receive constant affirmation from the children in the classroom who have ASD. Much of what I see them do in the classroom I do myself, whether in public or in private. I speak the same language with those on the spectrum whom I have been corresponding with since joining autism forums. I would ask the doctor to read my stories. They aren’t made up. I have lived those stories, and I still do. I have a choice about talking, writing, and praying about ASD, but I don’t have a choice about living with it.