“An ODD Childhood” is a reworking of an old Quora post.
This is my autism diagnosis story.
An Odd Childhood
I often tell people that my childhood was an odd one.
(black and white photograph of a man with a suit jacket, mustache. text reads: “It was a rather a serious evening, you know” -Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon, describing his survival of the sinking of the Titanic. )
“An odd one” is an understatement on the level of Mr. Gordon’s
I was raised by a very unstable person who shifted from rages that included physical and psychological abuse, to overly strict rules and religious insanity that would change on a dime, to all out neglect back to tight control. She drank heavily, slept almost exclusively with married men, was involved in illegal activities, and exposed us to porn, alcohol and violence.
File her somewhere between ambivalent and disorganized.
I felt for a long time that my talking, learning, social problems, abruptness, anxiety, obsessions, etc, were because of this. (my doctor feels that it more likely exacerbated them)
These days I feel being on the spectrum could be the reason I made it through less damaged than I could have been.
I grew up and received a PTSD diagnosis.
I’m getting ahead of myself, because one of the most important parts of this story isn’t labels.
It’s a person.
(Pete chillin at the science museum, 2012)
I gave birth to, this beautiful beautiful child who didn’t talk until he was four, and to this day cannot have a typical conversation.
My diagnosis story, is very much Pete’s story, because it was through his diagnosis and learning process that I began to take a closer look at me.
His diagnosis was not the grief laden thing it can be for many parents.
I was and still am worried about his future, but it just was never a tragedy.
His autism diagnosis left me saying, “Ok, so ummm, how can I help him learn?”
I set out to learn everything I could regarding autism and learning, and learning in a general sense.
As he and the other boys were diagnosed I asked myself frequently, “Is this the source of my problems, back then, and now?”
It explained everything that couldn’t be explained by ptsd related anxiety/mood or attachment issues.
I pondered this for YEARS.
Eventually I went to college to study child development. Learning about attachment and cognitive development as well as psychopathology was elucidating. It brought about mindfulness.
I left it for awhile though, diving back into a nice relaxing obsession, Sherlock Holmes, because of the stress of the clash between ABA advocates/curebie/biomed parents and the acceptance crowd. It was really ugly, still can be.
Time went on…
I was still recognizing, still running into my same problems stemming, primarily from severe social anxiety.
(cartoon girl in a superhero outfit, text reads: Anxiety Girl! able to jump to the worst conclusion in a single bound! thought: ih good grief these tights are too tight, I think I’m gonna die)
One day, I just decided, I needed to know. I contacted an aspie blogger I follow who lived close by and got the name of her doctor. It was a several hours long evaluation over the span of about two months (six hours of actual evaluation -test after test). It was not an autism evaluation only, she looked at everything including possible personality disorders (schizoid or antisocial being possibilities), mood disorders, etc. Being that the doctor is well educated, very well experienced, and using the best diagnostic tools, I made the decision I would accept, whatever it was she had to say.
My diagnosis sheet:
(functioning is in the clinical sense is adaptation to problems in daily living)
The ADHD diagnose has been the most difficult to accept.
I have not yet needed this information to ask for any supports or accommodations for myself, but its there if I need it. The benefit is in more of a freedom to speak /share.
Plus as I have felt acceptance is so essential for my guys, so is accepting myself.
It’s actually empowering to know without a doubt and then move ahead.