Hello folks! In case you have come across this by mistake, allow me to explain what is going on: my name is Sarah and you are currently reading a blog centred around ASD. I have no qualifications pertaining to autism whatsoever; however, I am autistic with multiple autistic friends. I am writing this blog because, to be frank, I find that the opinions and insights of actual autistic people on their life are too few and far between. I should say at this point that ASD stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder and is the official name of the condition usually referred to as autism.
For some background, I was diagnosed at 17 and when seeking out more information about managing life with autism, I was disconcerted when I found that the vast majority of blogs and literature were written by neurotypical people. In their defense, these people were usually scientists with a background in research into ASD, or the parents of children with ASD. Unfortunately, I am neither of those types of people. I am the one with autism. Not only that, I am a female, 20-year-old university student with autism. (At the time of writing that is.) Most of what is known about the condition is derived from research predominantly centered around young boys. As many people are neither male nor children, this is not always very helpful. While I also acknowledge that having a child on the autism spectrum means you will have to adjust and it is important to hear from parents, it is also not a particularly relevant perspective to me, as I have 0 children: on or off the spectrum.
The information I was looking for was a personal perspective on life from an autistic adult. I wanted solutions to things I struggled with and I wanted information about terms and organisations and different situations in life. Above all, I was looking for an honest account on how autism can be not just managed, but used in a way to aid me, because I have been autistic my whole life, and I will continue to be autistic for the rest of my life. I must admit that I don’t have that all figured out and I probably will never have it completely figured out, but what I can offer is practical advice, anecdotes, sources of help, insights and a general perspective on what it is like to live with autism.
I am aware that I am speaking from a mostly verbal perspective and I am predominantly able to live an independent life, however I would ask you to also be aware that this has been a difficult stage to reach. I was diagnosed after a long time of not being able to work out why I couldn’t do things that other people could. For many years I thought I was inherently wrong, and I forced myself to adapt and live in a way that was not sustainable. People may not have realized that this was going on, but it was my life and still is to a certain extent. Being an 11-year-old child and using your computer time to try and ‘fix’ things like your problems with eye contact and social cues does not set you up for a good mental health or strong self-esteem. It is extremely tiring and the fear of someone ‘discovering’ what you perceive to be a huge flaw in you as a person means you keep it inside and try to control things that you just cannot.
This is the reason I am writing this blog. If I can help anyone feel at all more aware of autism and how it manifests and how you may think and feel with the condition, then every word is worth more to me than I will ever be able to express. This blog will be aimed predominantly at those with ASD, but anyone who knows someone with autism or just generally wants to learn about the condition from a first-person perspective is also encouraged to read. I will talk about both solutions you can do yourself, as well as how others can be good allies. There are so many topics I plan on covering, from school to sport, sexuality to support, supermarkets to stereotypes. (Yes, I did pick all words that start with ‘s’ on purpose. I didn’t learn about sibilance in GCSE English for nothing!) I will give an honest account and will not downplay the joys I have had because of the condition, nor the unmitigated disasters it has caused.
To try and make this blog as accessible as I feasibly can, I will also include a sound recording of the article so if your vision is impaired or perhaps you struggle to read this font or you would just prefer to listen to the post then you will be able to. You should also be able to translate the site into other languages using the button at the bottom of the page. It may not be perfectly accurate but I’m afraid it will have to do until I have learnt the other 2000+ languages I am currently missing from my repertoire. I hope you enjoy what I have written and what will be written in the future. Thank you very much, be kind to yourself and don’t be a knob to others!