Daily Telegraph – Laura James 16/11/2015 (Autism)

Saw this article today and a few parts seemed like my experience.

Until I was diagnosed.. ..I had spent my whole life feeling different. Not broken exactly, but somehow ‘other’. Unable to do things that most people find straightforward. Plagued by guilt, fear and a sense of inadequacy.

…Interacting with the world as if behind glass…

…My diagnosis was a vindication:I am not defective. I am autistic…

Parents often say they go through a grieving process when they find out their child has autism. In some small way I felt something similar. A sense of loss for the life I might have had, had I been diagnosed earlier.

… But I was left feeling exposed and alone by complicated office politics, illogical workplace rules and the sensory overload triggered by fluorescent lighting, ringing phones and the background hum of conversation.

…No one understood why I couldn’t cope. Some put it down to my being spoiled or being stupid and I didn’t have the words to explain the strange feelings no one else seemed to experience. I had tried normal and had failed.

…It was this success – haphazard, unexpected and unplanned – that kept me from diagnosis. I was functioning, earning money, employing people and looking, to all intents and purposes, as if I knew what I was doing and had it all.

Beneath the surface, however, I was exhausted by my inability to feel and behave like others. No one saw the me that would spend 14 hours straight, focused on a project, forgetting to dress. The me that felt an overwhelming terror at the idea of travelling on the tube or getting into a lift. The me that didn’t claim child benefit for an of my four children because the idea of filling in a form was too much. The real me. 

…while in hospital for tests I became overly upset over a tuna sandwich and my room being unbearably hot. A kind nurse talked me down. She saw me, childlike, sobbing and exposed, and recognised a classic autistic meltdown. Very quietly she said: “Don’t worry, love, we see a lot of people with autism.”

.. After a five-hour assessment, she gave me my diagnosis: Autistic Spectrum Disorder: Adult Aspergers ICD 10 Code F84.5 It was as if I were meeting myself for the first time.

I can see myself in much of this. It resonates with my experience. 

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