How It Feels Being Autistic: One Man Tells All

I hope that you continue to enjoy this series, where we learn about the uniqueness of each autistic person by seeing their answers to the very same questions. Not everyone experiences autism the same way. JayBriana, and Evinceo all shared their answers to the following questions, but you have yet to hear from Scott, an adult male who received his diagnosis at the age of 22. Please read on to learn more about his life and how it feels being autistic.

  1. At what age were you diagnosed with autism and how did the diagnosis come about? I was diagnosed when I was 22. I’d always known that I’d been different and I’d had a variety of problems with social interaction. I told my mother that I think I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and then we went off to see a psychologist, did a quick test, and was diagnosed.
  2. Do you feel that your parents support/supported your needs well? My parents have always done their best to support me, though until I was diagnosed they had no idea how I was different or what to do about it. After I was diagnosed, they’ve done well to help get me into therapy and obtain various benefits. My mother is always available for emotional support, or anything I need really.How It Feels Being Autistic: One Man Tells All
  3. I’ve heard some people say we should refer to you as a person first (a person with autism) but others feel that it’s okay to say someone is an autistic person. What do you feel is the correct way to talk about someone having autism? I don’t like the person-first speech. To me, it feels dishonest. Autism is a very fundamental part of who I am, and without it I certainly wouldn’t be me. Person-first language attempts to distance me from autism, but that can never be a reality, nor would I want it to. I am autistic, and I am proud.[ctt title=”Learn About Autism From a Proud Autistic Man” tweet=”Learn More About #Autism from a Proud Autistic Man #AskanAutistic @embracespectrum” coverup=”dzMDa”]
  4. Do you feel overwhelmed by environmental stimuli? If so, can you explain how it feels (for you) to have a strong reaction to sensory stimuli? Being overwhelmed by environmental stimuli is probably the biggest problem I face. I’m not so much bothered by light like many folks are, but noise really affects me. Movement bothers me as well; specifically the vibrations I feel through the floor. Those two things together can overwhelm me very quickly and where without a doubt the defining factor in my failure to hold a job. I’ve seen many attempts to explain how this feels through video or interactive simulation, but few come close to portraying the actual experience. When I become overstimulated, all of that sensory input becomes muddled and unrecognizable. It’s very difficult to pick out and comprehend words. As the overstimulation progresses, the same thing begins to happen with my interior monologue to the point where I’m unable to process my own thoughts and I become quite nonfunctional. It is a terrifying thing to experience.
  5. Are there ways in which you feel limited by your condition? If so, how? I am limited by my condition in much the same way that any neurotypical is limited by theirs. I have a different set of strengths and weaknesses. It is a social disability, but I think it causes my mind to work in different ways that make me good at other things. I have no issues with math, programming, and kind of logic. That’s very easy for me, but many neurotypicals struggle with them.
  6. How can having autism have an impact on someone’s behavior? As I said earlier, autism is a social disability, and it is often paired with social anxiety. It isn’t always the case, but I tend to be a lot less social than most people. I avoid crowds and cities. That is probably the biggest impact on my behavior.
  7. Follow-up: How can parents, teachers, etc., help someone with autism to make it through a situation that’s creating frustration for them? The best thing a parent or teacher could do is to provide tools to overcome any situation. There are a variety of tools available: medication, earplugs, communication aids. The best tool I’ve ever found was knowledge. I poured through book after book, sometimes specific to issues I was having; sometimes not.
  8. What is the most annoying thing anyone has ever said to you regarding autism (and why did it annoy you)? The most annoying thing said to me about autism is something that happens pretty regularly. When I tell someone I’m autistic, the common response seems to be,” I’d never have known! You don’t seem autistic!” Then they might go on about their neighbor’s sister’s autistic kid and how I’m nothing like them. I’m nothing like them because I’ve spent years doing my best impression of a neurotypical because otherwise you won’t give me the time of day.
  9. Do you think there is a cure for autism? More importantly, would you want to be cured of autism? Feel free to elaborate. A cure for autism? Not unless they could rework our entire brain. Assistance may be found for certain issues that are commonly faced by autistic people, but a true cure is a long way off, if it’s attainable at all. Personally, I think any investments into a cure are a waste of resources and an insult to who I am. I’m proud of who I am and find no shame in being autistic.
  10. If you could tell society anything, what would you want to say (try to keep it PG)?Accept people for who they are. Celebrate our differences. I’m not less human because I’m autistic. I’m not incapable. In truth, I could get along quite well in the world if folks would just show some understanding. I could work if people would understand I just need a desk in a quiet place. Please stop trying to treat everyone as if they’re the same, because they’re not. No one is. I just happen to have a set of differences that can be easily labeled. So, show understanding; not just to me, but to everyone because even neurotypicals have their differences.

I really appreciate Scott’s insight into how things work for him, as an individual with autism. I’m so fortunate that he trusted me enough to share his answers. I feel that each time I read the answers to the questions I’ve asked, I learn something new.

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to participate in Ask an Autistic, please click here. You are not required to share your name and the survey does not capture your personal information.

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