Living On The Autism Spectrum

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not the autism spectrum should be viewed as a form of disability or difference. A majority of the people that we talked to discussed feeling different. For some individuals, it was a positive feeling, but other people described that they wanted to fit in and felt isolated. 

"I believe we are constantly trying to fit since I always think I am on the outside. It is very difficult work to do. You know you are different and that you do things in a different way. You know you do some strange things. However, you know this, but everyone is different. Everyone has the right to be different, but a majority of individuals do not understand what it feels like to be the Martian out on the playground, or as the odd one out." 

"I think loneliness becomes sort of a default setting." 

For many people we spoke to feeling different was a very lonely experience, especially due to difficulties with making friends and socialising. For example, Paul said that as a child he did not feel he was involved in social situations and didn't feel comfortable participating in activities. 

There was one woman who shared that the most difficult thing that she needed to deal with was, "Attempting to get along with everyone, kind of like trying to act normal, and other people thinking you are normal while you think you are strange since they are not aware what is wrong with you."  

"Ever since I can remember I knew I was not like most other people," Harriet said, while Mark said, "I never really thought that I belonged. I think this was highlighted, especially in my family, since you know, I was really different from my parents while my sister was quite similar to them. I kind of highlighted my differences and basically make me feel like a freak.Everything was difficult, from issues in childhood right through to relationships and finding the right sexual positions for limited mobility people like myself" 
Autism manifests and feels in specific ways that might be quite different from the specific ways that it manifests and feels to another person. So, at times I am afraid to say how it really feels since I don't ever want to be held up as the "autistic standard." 

Some people's cruelty has made me quite cautious and at times I have considered moving away from the public spotlight of being an autistic spokesperson. 

Each time I get ready to run and hide, I invariably get an email from a mother who is confused and hurting and desperately trying to find that small hook to hang her hopes on while she is battling with what is torturing her child. She wants me to help her understand even just one ounce of what her child might be feeling. That makes me realise I cannot let his story be silenced by my own fears or mean comments made by other people.

Autism is a type of neurodevelopment disorder that frequently involves varying degrees of struggle with repetitive or restricted behaviours, sensory processing, nonverbal and verbal communication, and social interaction. I will break some of this down - at least some of those things that manifest in me. However, you need to recognise that all of the various psychological manifestations that can be seen in an individual with ASD flows out of the ASD's underlying neurological system.