It’s a Spectrum
My mom always used to tell me how everyone would try to give her advice on how to raise me because they would have someone they knew with autism. She understood where it was coming from; however, it just felt disingenuous to her. Her words were, “If you’ve met one person with autism, then you’ve only met one person with autism.” My mom meant that in the way that each of the people with autism were unique in their own way just like each human without it.
While I was growing up, I had known a handful of people with different disabilities including autism, and we had flocked together to help one another. After moving to Richmond, I have found more people like me, and it has helped me realize how different everyone’s experiences are. Their experiences have influenced how I see the world a bit differently than I used to. Making friends has been easier for me over the years whereas keeping friends has been a bit of a struggle in knowing the give and take.
One thing that would get me a lot of the time was how perceptive my mom was with me. She knew that I was different before the diagnosis. I will say, if not for her and the support I received from my family and those I surround myself with as a support system, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My mom was also very protective of me when I was growing up, she still is. There were multiple times when people would ask her why I wasn’t smiling in a picture she had taken. She had explained it to people multiple times and pointed out that I tend to smile more with my eyes, which is still natural.
The way I spoke initially was very robotic and devoid of any emotions which can get very frustrating to anyone listening especially when trying to help. When I got older, my speech patterns changed to sound a bit more “normal”. I sounded more like a functioning human rather than a robot with no emotional output. I will admit that is something I still struggle with to this day though. Some of my extended family like to tease me about it to this day and I know it is all in good fun.
A lot of what I used to do was very robotic and neutral yet that didn’t mean that I didn’t have emotions. They always felt overwhelming or underwhelming to me and never the same way as anyone else would feel them. No two people feel the same emotions the same way or experience life the same way. That’s from my understanding and growth over time.