The silent wave

About a month ago, it came to light that I might fall somewhere on the autism spectrum.  Before then, I hadn’t the slightest clue.  In fact, because I don’t flap my hands, rock back and forth, cover my ears, go mute, or squeal, I never even asked the question.  It never crossed my mind, much like “am I a radio?” isn’t a question people ask themselves.

When the realization hit me, it hit in waves.

First there was the two-week period in which I scoured every research article in the NeuroImage archive, being sure to evaluate my interest in the titles before automatically and gleefully saving them to my laptop’s hard drive, a time during which various catch-phrases stuck out at me, such as “task-switching”, “limbic activation”, “sensory gating”, and “cerebellar coordination” in relation to autism spectrum conditions.

Then there was the flashback to a family reunion when I shared an unusual connection with a distant cousin whom I had just met that seemed a little “off”, but characteristics that might distract or annoy others didn’t seem to faze me.

Next came the realization that all of the above seemed to converge within me, at least in some form.

And finally came the burning desire to investigate, and to know.

I started where many start; I googled “Asperger’s quiz”.  Google didn’t disappoint.  I took several quizzes, scoring strongly in the “autism likely” realm each and every time.

My next step was to Google “female adult Asperger’s blog” to explore the various writings from women on the spectrum.

My jaw hit the floor.  Here was a whole wave of women whose posts so eerily mirrored what had I felt, thought, and experienced over the course of my entire life.

Of course, although Google didn’t disappoint, the “traditional” authorities did.  Visiting “official” informational resources was like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard.  I was amazed–and devastated–at how, in 2016, with our diagnostic imaging and laboratory capabilities, and our ever-expanding flood of scientific knowledge and discovery, the “authorities” could be so wrong.  So out of touch.  So backward.  So ignorant.  So inaccurate.  The research on autism and its diagnostic criteria are mostly designed around the obvious characteristics observed in boys.

Where were the girls/women?  Where was their voice?  Where was their influence?

I’ll tell you.

We’re here.  We’ve always been here.  We’re not going away.  Asperger’s and the rest of the autism spectrum is not an “epidemic” in the traditional sense.  There aren’t more Aspies/autistic types than there were before.

What is epidemic is an awakening, a wave of understanding and realization.  Awareness is on the rise; education and acceptance are following more slowly, but they’re coming.  The most powerful autism awareness I’m witnessing is that of ourselves.

It’s no one’s fault, usually.  Maybe we came of age long before Asperger’s was recognized and we missed that boat in childhood.  (Or, maybe we came of age after Asperger’s was removed, in the United States, from the latest version of the DSM, the DSM-V).

Or maybe it was someone’s fault.  Maybe we were overlooked.  Ignored.  Written off.  Misunderstood. (Mis)diagnosed with something else (usually depression, bipolar, ADHD, OCD, PTSD, generalized anxiety disorders, etc).  Maybe our social awkwardness defaulted to being shy and quiet, something adults prize in little girls.  Maybe we were lost in our fantasy worlds and imaginary friends, while everyone else was none the wiser.

But we’ve always been the way we are.  We’ve always been (sometimes painfully) aware that we were different from others.  We didn’t understand why, and try as we might, we couldn’t change it.

We often found it hard to talk.  We found it hard to be understood.  We found it hard to understand–ourselves and others.  We may have found it impossible to blend in.  To be accepted.  We might have figured we were crazy.  We figured we were wrong.  We might’ve assumed we were defective in some way.  We assumed that we were weak or sensitive.  We might have blamed ourselves, our parents, our families, our past, our present.  Being an autistic type isn’t anybody’s fault; it’s something that just is.  But that doesn’t make it any easier.

The truth is, we’re not wrong.  We’re not defective.  We’re not stupid.  We’re not slow.  We’re not retarded.  We’re not immature.  We’re not crazy.  We’re not emotionless.  We’re not narcissistic.

We’re OK.

“OK” doesn’t mean we have it easy.  “OK” doesn’t mean nothing’s wrong or that we’re not suffering in some way.

“OK” means we don’t–and shouldn’t–have to change who we are at the core to satisfy rules we had no say in making.  “OK” means that we should feel free to be who we are, and to be true to ourselves.  “OK” means that we’re real people with feelings, thoughts, desires, dreams, interests, and strengths.  “OK” means that we should be entitled to the same freedom, respect, and voice as any other human being.

There are talents, challenges, and gifts that come with being an Aspie-type.  The same goes for the rest of the spectrum.  We need to identify these talents and gifts and embrace the uniqueness.

Up until today, I was relatively silent.  I was alone with my newfound realization.  I didn’t have the urge to “go tell it on the mountain”, but I do have the urge to release.  I realize we (Aspie females) are not all silent; many of us have crafted beautiful blogs with intelligent and thoughtful posts.   These blogs and their posts felt like a wave of hugs that calmly blanketed me, comforting me and helping me realize that I wasn’t alone.  Today, I want to begin contributing to that supply of comforting information and insight, as limited as it may be right now.  Not only do I have that urge to release, but I also have the urge to share, give back, and contribute.

Because I have the feeling that there is a silent wave coming, a wave of females awakening to their neuro-uniqueness and realizing who they are.  The effect my experience had on me was akin to watching a flower bloom.

We’re here.  We’ve always been here.  And there are more.

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This post is one of my more popular posts.

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(Image credit: “Raven” by Matthew Armstrong)

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45 Comments

    1. Hi! Please please forgive me for only responding now. I’m going through a major revision of my blog. But as late as I am (over 6 months (embarrassed!!)) I wanted to reach out and thank you for your comment and support 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m a 47 year old male… and in my research I had to include both male and female and I identify strongly with both on the spectrum.
    I absolutely love what you wrote and it resonates with me.
    I just found out through counseling that I’m on the spectrum. And my approach and research and daily discovery is much how you describe it.
    I look forward to hearing more from you about this subject.
    Thank you for this blog. I came here from your link in Aspen support on Facebook. Love that group.
    Jerry B.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was very moved by this and truly believe your voice can make a difference. I’ll do all I can to help promote your blog and slowly by little our spilled water will chip away at that great big rock. I too believe that we are at the beginning of a revolutionary time for Autistics and that those of us who have the gift of effective communication have a responsibility to utilize it for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness thank you! Let the revolution begin :). I love your page on Facebook, by the way! ❤

      Like

  3. Welcome! We belong to a group after all. My ugly duckling tale has something of an ending. Finally. At the same time as you. An interesting journey we’ve been on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! I’m deeply sorry that I’m only now responding (6 weeks later! So embarrassed!!); doing a much-needed blog cleanup and revision. But even though it’s been so long, wouldn’t feel right if I continued to stay silent, without thanking you for your comment and your warm and supportive welcome. Hugs offered to you ❤

      Like

  4. I was 49 when I was diagnosed with and treated for Asperger’s syndrome. I had been diagnosed with autism at age 5 and autistic psychopathy at age 15 but retrograde, anterograde, psychogenic and dissociative amnesias wiped out my memory of all that. I was diagnosed and treated by hypno-regression therapy because of the amnesias, and shocked to discover I’d died and returned to life numerous times by age 15, half of them deliberately. My psychiatrist was not shocked though. He asked me to coach / counsel others like me to stop them committing suicide – and I’ve been doing that ever since – very successfully – published 7 amazon bestsellers – blog on The Huffington Post and broadcast audio/video for radio/television on Cable News Network – and I use an email autoresponder to teach suicide avoidance and prevention – yesterday I began jointventuring with a brand new US-based internet university to take care of its suicidal auties / aspies – there’s loads of good things you can do – saving lives – improving health, wealth, happiness and security of billions of people

    But above all – save yourself from suicide – we are 28 times as likely to kill ourselves as others – two thirds of us die before we are adults – contact me adriant.esq@btinternet.com whenever you need a helping hand – ok?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your perspective and your support. What an amazing background – I can only imagine how overwhelming that could be at times(?) ! Thank you for offering your contact and resources. I’m heart-warmed to know that there are people like you out there, doing what you do. Thank you for all that you do 🙂 ❤

      Like

  5. Incredible! This blog looks just like my old one!
    It’s on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Excellent choice of colors!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I had a lot of fun designing and customizing it 😊 If you still have your blog up, please feel free to link to it here ❤️

      Like

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    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Thank you so much, dear! I really appreciate your kind words. Your blog resonates with me, too! I love your writing. I totally identified with your piece on executive function lol 😊 When I interact with your blog, I’ll show up as “This Field Was Intentionally Left Blank” lol 😉

      Thanks again! ❤️

      Like

    1. Thank you so kindly for your encouraging words! I deeply apologize for taking so long to respond! 😳😳. I don’t know how I missed your comment, but I do know that my WP had been quite unstable in through that time period. Anyway, thank you again 💚💙

      Like

  12. Your words made me not only smile but actually laugh…for the sheer familiarity! 😊 Thank you for everything you’ve written and for the much needed reminder (read: encouragement) that there are and have been others on a very similar journey. ❤️ It’s an amazing thing to finally realize you’re not alone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww thank you so much! 😊. I absolutely agree 👏🏼👏🏼. It’s an amazing thing indeed! All my life I had felt like an outsider, weird, picky, a hermit, etc, and very misunderstood – but then when I realized I was on the spectrum, I thought “omg! There’s an explanation for all of this!” Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I was on the spectrum before that. It was so liberating. And I realized that no matter how alone or unusual my story seemed, it mirrored that of so many others! So comforting and yep, very encouraging 😁. It’s really nice to meet you! Going to check out your blog now, and if there’s a way to follow it, I’m going to do so right now 😁💖🌟

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my goodness…same here! I have had so many “ahh, that’s why” moments this year. It has been an enlightening process to be sure! 😊👍🏻 Comforting. That’s it, exactly. ❤️ Lovely to meet you as well!! (And thank you for following my blog…you’re too sweet!) Hope you’ve had a wonderful day!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you! ❤️. I hope you did as well 😊. Your blog rocks! 👏🏼👏🏼

          Isn’t it amazing how life hands us these Little Curveballs? Your story is so familiar, so fresh in my mind; what you’re going through now is where I was at last year 🌟. It was a landmark year for me for sure, and if your journey is anything like mine, this may become sort of a Line Drawn In The Sand for you, I hope in a really good way 😁👍🏼

          I look forward to reading more of your journey! 💙💙

          Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you 💕…your blog as well…seriously! 👍🏻 I’m looking forward to reading all you’ve written! Why are there never enough hours in the day?! 😉

    Amazing for sure…and somehow unexpectedly beautiful. This year has changed everything (and with that have come a lot of highs and lows), but it’s definitely for the better! 😊😊 Thanks for being such a bright and positive light!!! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes 😊💖. I know the feeling 👍🏼. Hehe I had *so* much to say in those first several months (ok, the first entire year! Lol); so many thoughts, so many feelings, so many experiences (both past experiences that could now be cast in a new light, and new experiences after my discovery). It definitely has been a game-changer! I wouldn’t be surprised if it is for you also 👍🏼. So happy for you that it’s been such an uplifting experience for you so far! I hope it continues to be forever 😘💚💙. I’m always here for you if you ever have any questions or want to compare notes or anything 💞🌟💞

      Liked by 1 person

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