Autism- the beginning

Posted: June 19, 2011 in autism, medicine
Tags: ,

For years I was told by members of my family, my wife, and a few friends that I had aspergers or high-functioning autism but I brushed them off because I thought they were just too eager to fit me into a nice explained box. My odd behaviors and “special” way of communicating with people felt like a bunch of quirks that bundled together made my personality

This all changed one day in medical school during a psychiatry lecture on some non-specific topic. I was sitting there bored so I started randomly reading articles that were stuck in our notes and landed on one from a NY times author about how he discovered he had high functioning autism (HFA) by the time he was an adult. Much to my surprise, the article made me very upset, so much so that there were tears coming down my face because of how much I identified with the writer. I was upset that all these features that I once thought were unique ended fitting nicely into a diagnosis. It wasn’t the typical medical student neurosis of “OH NO I’M COUGHING I HAVE PNEUMOCYSTIS PNEUMONIA”, it was more than that. All these quirks, not just one but ALL, fit nicely into a little autistic box. My great ability with numbers/computers, my severe speech delay, my clumsiness, lack of tact, and my social ineptness all lined up with this diagnosis.

To help sort things out I made an appointment to talk to one of our psychiatrist professors. After a talk of why I thought I may be autistic and my troubled past she agreed that I had a form of aspergers or high functioning autism. This was a little surprising as I have seen psychiatrists for 18 years pretty much constantly, been diagnosed as Major depression(duh), OCD, Bipolar(oh come on-wheres the manic part in my life?), schizotypal(not even close) but never autism. There is a footnote to this though: As mentioned in a previous post a “case report” was written on me when I was younger, could that have labeled me as autism? No one remembers, so it is lost in the past.

After months of struggling to come to term with it (I thought I was unique?) I accepted the diagnosis and allowed myself to be at peace with this one part of my life.  I have even become comfortable to the point that on a whim I tell people I have aspergers. Because of my pretty much non-selective way of sharing this information I have had a very wide range of reactions, from good: “ooh that’s why you act like that/said that” to bad: from a med school evaluation “Cannot keep a professional distance from clinical staff”. I have also had different experiences from my fellow classmates and have been shaped in different ways
because of my mind structure. It seems because of my outside experience of the “group conscious” that I escape many of the unspoken social pressures that change many neurotypicals.

Oddly enough, this same psychiatrist ended up involuntarily committing me to the hospital and later  suggested I write an article about Aspergers and medical school. But, sadly, my writing skills don’t really trap and interest readers as you have most likely experienced here.

  1. I think your writing skills are pretty good actually, you definitely kept me interested. Your blog layout isn’t as bright and appealing as some of the others on here but this is the first one I have posted on so far.. that says something.

    Oh and by the way, you are unique, we all are would be dull if we were all the same.

  2. Paper Tiger says:

    I disagree. I can relate to you and your experience. Write…write about Aspergers and medical school. Your blog is the first I’ve ever commented on or responded this much to. You make sense to me. I can relate to and identify with your experience, including years of misdiagnosis….this is common among us….so there’s more you have to connect to, to whom you finally make sense to. I’m sure other Aspies and autistics probably reasoned much the same as you: why write or share? Nobody can relate to me, or “I can’t trap and interest readers…”….but, guess what? they have an audience. Others can relate. You’ll never be able to find out just how many unless you take the initiative and just write….see what happens.—sebrina

    • I am not so sure I am able to make repeated interesting posts that lure readers in. I can look at others writing and notice attributes that my writing lacks, but yet I cannot copy those attributes.

      • Paper Tiger says:

        You don’t have to worry about making interested posts to lure readers in. Don’t compare yourself to others…that’s one of the worst things an Aspie can do, because, plainly, we are not like everyone else period (amen). There will always be someone else stronger, smarter, prettier, better…who cares? We/ you don’t live your life as their shadow or for them. You are you, with your own unique fingerprint, history and perspective….celebrate that, and all the adversity you’ve overcome to be right here, right now. This is what drew me in….i don’t even visit blogs by and large, they aren’t my thing….but, i’ve subscribed to yours. Just be you, down to earth, real…share you, your experience from your perspective, in your unique form of written expression. don’t worry about others. Nobody like cardboard cookies, so don’t try to copy others’ writing styles…then its no longer authentic or you, but someone else. You are doing fine. You are braver than me. You have a blog. Use it to share your experience your way…and the right people who can really benefit and heal from it, via shared experience, being able to relate or having their eyes opened (maybe finally!!!) will come and read. Temple Grandin is a fine example….would her experience mean anything to so many of us if she tried to be or write like everyone else? Keep writing….when you want to and what you want to write about.—sebrina

  3. The Missyman says:

    People with autism are as much alike, in my opinion, as people who are raised in the same town are alike. If someone tells you they are from Idaho, or from New York City, it may give you a general idea of what they may be like. If someone tells me they have Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism, likewise, it gives me a general idea of what they may be like.
    This is my way of telling you that you remain just as unique as you were before diagnosis. I have the privilege of being acquainted with many autistic people, and to be one myself. And we’re just as much of a mixed bag as any other group of people you can scoop up.
    I also wanted to say, the way you write caused me to become interested in reading more, so there’s that.

    • I would agree with that comparison. While people autism have similar features which allows them to be classified as a group, they still have a wide arrange of obsessions, combination of features, and severity of futures.

      But it doesn’t stop that this combination of oddities clusters into a known syndrome. Its not just random chance, it is a known constellation. I guess that is what bothers me.

      • Paper Tiger says:

        Please expand on this: “But it doesn’t stop that this combination of oddities clusters into a known syndrome. Its not just random chance, it is a known constellation. I guess that is what bothers me.”

        What about that bothers you?

  4. Mal says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your writing style is not boring at all. Though I’m not autistic, some of your experiences resonated with me, like struggling with your initial realization that you had aspergers. That bit about no longer feeling so unique. I had a similar experience except I was still a kid and it was ADHD for me.

  5. Andy says:

    Can you share the name of the article that you read on HFA? I’m currently in medical school and am struggling with the idea of possibly having aspergers or austism. And it led me to this blog and I’m slowly reading through your experiences. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Kamil says:

    I have to disagree with you saying your writing doesn’t get reader’s attention. You write no small-talk pieces, but real, humane experiences. You get to the point.

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