Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Eccentric

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.