I’m here. Now what?

autism research

The past couple of months have been pretty rough for me. It started with me casually looking up symptoms of adult ADHD just to see if I might have it. Turns out I do. I was pretty surprised. For some reason (more on that later) I thought ADHD was basically “when boys run around and can’t focus in school”. Huh.

(If you are wondering if you might have ADHD, this would be a good place to start but I’ll also make a separate post just on that.)

Turns out, ADHD is actually not about some stereotypical way a boy is unable to focus but instead A WAY SOMEONE’S BRAIN FUNCTIONS. Of course, it can present itself differently (mostly depending on the context and what the environment expects from this person).

There were times (much like with autism) when I tried to explain this to people and they didn’t quite understand what I meant.

I mean the way my thoughts jump all the time. They way they make connections instantly and while I’m talking, I have already finished the sentence I started saying out loud in my head, and my thoughts are already presenting a counter-argument to it etc. So, for example, I have difficulties forming full sentences.

Anyway.

Then, I’ll be honest, I started seeing TikToks about being autistic – from autistic creators. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. There are symptoms that are pretty general and that even might seem similar to ADHD. But after constantly and consistently identifying with what they were describing, particularly when describing interactions with other people or their everyday life problems due to autism), I decided to just check out the symptoms. Basically, just to rule it out.

(Funny story, when I found out I have ADHD, I recalled how I had autism symptoms as a child, and I thought that may have been connected to my ADHD.)

Now, while ADHD is a relatively new diagnosis where I live (it was not, at least not to my knowledge, available when I was a child) and has been (and still might be) perceived mostly as “the excuse people give for being lazy and unable to concentrate”, the perception of autism is different. Autism was a recognised condition/disorder when I was a child but it was (and still is) considered much more as a disability than as anything else. I distinctly remember an autism presentation in a children’t magazine – and my parents making some jokes about me having some of the symptoms. I became very aware of the fact that “being autistic” is a “bad thing”. And actually – okay now this is pretty funny actually – I have always wondered what was wrong with me for having autism symptoms (but clearly, I cannot be autistic because I am clearly not autistic because that is a bad thing that I am not because I am “normal”).

Yeah. I actually thought that.

Furthermore, I even talked about this – specifically THIS – in a group therapy that I attended for like 4 years a few years ago. (More on that in some other post.)

Back to the story. Autism was not as obvious as ADHD. Well, in a way, it turned out to be more obvious but at the same time also less obvious. Even though, knowing what I know now, it actually baffles me no-one noticed – or even thought of it before. Then again, knowing what I know now, I also understand it.

I did a lot of research. A lot. I specifically dived into scientific articles dealing with autism in women and girls. And the more I read about it the more obvious it became I am in fact autistic. As this realisation started slowly seeping in, it hit differently than the ADHD one. I think because it touched something deeper. Something inherent in me, my essence, if I can say so. The core of the divide I have always felt between myself and the outer world, nay, people. This distinction is actually crucial to make.

While ADHD explains my executive dysfunction and the way my focus shifts quickly (and in general my problems with motivation), autism articles addressed something far more personal. These are the things I have never even tried to explain to other people and that I thought would stay with me (and only me) until the day I die.

Turns out, there is an explanation for my “internal world”. For my different perception (of the world, society, people, everything…). That I am not the only one with certain problems and struggles of understanding things that seem so obvious to everyone else. Turns out, there are people who UNDERSTAND.

I cannot express all the emotions that come with that. (Yeah cause I’m autistic lol. Jk.) So yeah. There is a lot I am learning about myself – and my life that I am seeing in a brand new light now. I have so much to process. And I hope you join me on this journey of (re)discovering myself.

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