Tuesday, 25 December 2012
I have a friend who once told me she initially didn't know I was autistic; instead, she said that she would have described me as "eccentric."
I am eccentric. I wear that badge as proudly as I wear the autism one (this is a figurative badge, by the way).
Sometimes, I shake and flap my arms and hands. Sometimes, I fidget my shoulders and my neck. Sometimes, my feet stomp uncontrollably. I walk purposefully, oftentimes in patterns, back and forth and back and forth again.
I bite my wrists and fingers -- more obvious in the marks on my right hand than my left -- and I bite and hit my knees.
I don't always remember to keep my tongue in my mouth.
I correct people's grammar, even when it's socially inappropriate -- sometimes I just don't see that it's not the time for that.
I don't always understand what people say, and I've been told that I ask a lot of questions. I also say "I don't understand" a lot -- that's something I've noticed about myself. I don't pretend to understand things the way I used to when I was younger; I used to get frustrated because I was so often confused, but now I just say I don't understand, that way someone will explain things to me in a manageable way. I don't get frustrated as much anymore.
Sometimes, I repeat words with interesting syllables and sounds. Sometimes, I say the same word over and over because it makes me calm.
I have a lot of anxiety regarding cleanliness and have an elaborate system of indoor- and outdoor-clothing.
I make a lot of lists. More lists than the average person my age.
I struggle with anxiety. I have a lot of anxiety.
I know I am different. I am sometimes painfully aware of my uniqueness. I never used to see that I was any different than any of the other kids at school; I spent elementary school ignoring the other kids, blissfully ignorant and blessedly isolated. I spent middle school in a small classroom where all the students -- many of whom had special educational needs -- worked independently. It wasn't until high school that I was forced, by proximity, to pay attention to my peers. I could tell I was different -- of course I could -- but I couldn't change myself, no matter how hard I wanted to.
I have reached a point where I don't want to change anymore. I have tried social skills classes and I have tried cognitive behavior therapy, but it's clear that my brain chemistry has dictated that I be the person I am now, the person I have always been.
I am eccentric. I am autistic. Perhaps there's a fine line between the two. Perhaps they are unique facets of my self.
Either way, I am glad I am me.