Over the course of five weeks we will be sharing a series of blog posts with you, written by an autistic academic who was diagnosed later in life.
She was assessed for autism as a child, but says she missed out on the diagnosis as little was known back then about the female presentation of autism. Thankfully, she had the chance to be reassessed as an adult.
She prefers to remain anonymous in her writing due to the stigma and discrimination that still exist within her industry, but she is happy for people to get in touch with her with any questions or feedback.
If you would like to get in touch please email us.
If you've missed any of the previous blog posts, please find the links at the bottom of this page.
This is part two:
I am eight years old, and I’m not the same as everyone else.
Other children don’t get taken by their mums to play in a room with a grown up lady, or to all those strange people who do endless tests. So many people. Why do I have to see them? Unbeknownst to me, they throw labels at my mum, but none of them stick. Autism is out; I’ve started making eye-contact by the time the doctors see me, and in the 90s everyone knows autistic people don’t make eye-contact. My mum is a bad mum, and I’m a bad girl. I still don’t do what I’m told; still pick things up in shops; still break things; cannot get my hands to work properly, for cutlery or hand-writing. We’re just not trying hard enough.
I have a few friends that my mum invited home for me when I was in infant school. They come around my house and we play computer games until they leave. My mum tries to widen my social circle, but the little girl she invites home tells me that she doesn’t like me. This seems quite reasonable and I don’t feel very upset; I know I am not very likeable.
My mum tries to play with me in outer space, standing on a chair to stick stars on the ceiling, but I get frustrated when she cannot hang them just so. She shouts about my lack of empathy and cries. Another time, I take the hamster swimming in the bathroom sink, and my mum is shocked. Didn’t I know that was a cruel thing to do?
I am very confused. And empathy – what is this thing?
People screw up their faces when they cry and go bright red. It looks silly. I laugh, then I get in trouble. My teacher says: “She doesn’t know that it’s wrong.” I start being scared about seeing people cry, in case it makes me laugh.
My teacher writes in my report card that I am an enigma, but I read a lot and I have the answer. There are people who are intrinsically bad, have no ‘empathy’ and live against the social order. I must be a psychopath. Other people don’t seem to know it yet, so I must not let them find out.
Click here to read part three