Living the Autistic Life
To some Autism is still classed as a disability that means that a sufferer cannot function normally in society. The problem with looking through rose tinted glasses at autistic people is that you miss out on the rainbow that is the Autism Spectrum. We are all unique in our own special way and being autistic does not always mean we have a disability or disadvantage. In fact it can sometimes be an advantage.
I have always known I was different, that there was something wrong with me, but for years I never knew what is was. I has only been in the past few years that I have come to understand who I am and what makes me that way.
I am Autistic
Yes that's right I am one of many adults living with Autism but I am also a mother and an employee with a full time job.
I am what is classed as A High Functioning Autistic. This is someone with Autism who can function fairly normally within society. I have a higher than average IQ but only just. This makes me pretty good at maths but I do find some everyday tasks hard and can get easily distracted.
I sometimes find it hard to communicate with others and when I do manage I can annoy people as I find it hard to shut up.
As a child I was very emotional and could also be aggressive. I hated not getting my own way and did not like to share. I another child had a toy I wanted I would take it. My parents put that down to me being an only child but looking at it now I would put it as one of my autistic traits. I struggled academically in early life only really excelling when it came to telling stories. Then I found I was good at maths and found a love of science which I still have today. I have never lost my love of writing stories although I found English hard. I also found a love for sport which helped me later in life. At school I would lash out sometimes for no reason and some of my friends drifted away. I would create fantasy worlds to play in right up till I was a teenager and even into adulthood. I still have one I escape into now. I was bullied at school which will be part of the reason I would lash out and this went on right through school and even at college.
Throughout all this time my parents just thought I was an emotional child and just kept on telling me to stop acting like a baby when I would burst into tears at the slightest thing. I can even remember asking my mam to take me to the Doctors as I knew there was something wrong with me but she refused. In fact to this day she does not believe that I am autistic. These events at home along with the bullying at school triggered anxiety and depression issues which just made my temperamental emotions worse.
I was lucky at senior school to have some great teachers most of which saw the good in me and I did ok academically coming away with 3 Cs in my GCSEs these were 2 in science and one in maths. My other results were not that great but I passed all of the ones I did even if the rest of my results were at the lower end of the grades.
During this time I would spend every weekend at my gran's and one week every year she would take me to Pontin's in Blackpool. I looked forward to this Holliday every year and became obsessed with the place. I was given the chance to help out in the Croc Club as a teenager as I felt more comfortable around the younger kids at times but still made friends with people of my own age and the workers on the site. In fact I still count some of them as my friends now. I know some of my peers thought I was strange at the time but I will never use that as a reason not to reconnect as none of us knew what I had back then.
College and my love for athletics
After leaving school I moved on to college and also joined my local athletics club which I would not have done without my friend dragging me along one night. I'm glad she did as it was here that I met my future partner.
At college I studied Leisure and Tourism as I had a love for both. I started to struggle maybe because of the more relaxed college environment and I only just passed the course. After my first year I changed courses and started studying Science which I had excelled at in school. However I struggled with the environment as I found it hard to cope in one of the classrooms. I found the lighting harsh and the smells would bother me. This had not happened since cooking classes at school. Because if this my anxiety and depression kicked in and I left the course before it finished and started looking for a job.
I had started to lean to drive while I was still at college and continued after I left. It took me a year and 3 attempts to pass and was going to give up if I hadn't passed on my 3rd attempt.
Between leaving college in 1999 and getting a decent job in 2001 I had a few jobs that did not last. I found interviews hard and would find it hard to function within the workplace. I found a voluntary role in a charity shop and also gained my athletics coaching licence before going on an employability course through the job center which also gave me the opportunity to gain recognised certification for my voluntary work. In late 2000 I was offered an apprenticeship and started working as a paid employee for another charity. This lasted a year and although I struggled and did not gain the full qualification I enjoyed the experience.
Gaining my coaching licence gave me the opportunity to work with young children and adults of different abilities and I coached kids that were on the spectrum. This gave me in insight into what could be wrong with me. I loved watching the athletes as they developed and I also loved competing myself and my summer weekends would often be taken up by one competition or another.
It was in 2001 that I finally got with my partner. It only took 4 years and so e persuading by another member of the club but he finally asked me out at the club presentation night.
Christmas 2001 was when my apprenticeship ended and it was time to look for something new. A few months into 2002 I came across an advert in a jobs paper that had been posted by Pontin's. I jumped at the chance and although I messed up during my audition for the entertainment team me genuine love for the company got me a job at my favorite site in Blackpool. I stepped on site as a real employee on April fool's day 2002 and although I was not there long due to finding it hard to live away from my parents as I struggled with everyday tasks I enjoyed my time in the most part. I also did not get along with my boss but that was because like most of my bosses before home he did not understand me.
After coming home in the July I found it hard to find work again and when I finally did I only lasted a short time. However I turned down a job offer which I regret even to this day.
2003 and My Big Break
In February of 2003 I got a job in a local supermarket working on checkouts. I loved the job and within a few months I was going to new and revamped stores to help train staff and even got to meet the company's then owner. Within a year I was told I should apply for a supervisors position this was at a store I was helping at and would have ment moving away from home again which did not appeal to me so I passed at the chance. I have had my ups and downs while working within this company but although I have moved departments on numerous occasions I am still there 14 years on.
In the time since starting at my current place of work I have left the athletics behind due to physical health problems and I have also found time to turn our family of 2 into a family of 4.
Family Life and Autism Diagnosis
Within the past few years both me and my partner have found out that we are both high functioning autistic. We are also finding that our eldest daughter shows signs that she may be also. We both see a lot of ourselves at her age in her. We have our struggles but manage to live a normal family life.
A little background on my partner
My partner is a time served joiner who now runs his own company. Before he set up his own buisness he worked in a factory making kitchens. Before leaving he had worked his way up from apprentice to supervisor and was in charge of programming the CNC machines.
My message to you the readers is this. Autism does not automatically equal disability. We are human beings who have feelings which in some cases like mine can be easily hurt.
We can be intelligent, active, contributing members of society.
We can be parent's who love our children just the same as a none autistic person.
We are individuals, all unique in our own special way.
We are the Rainbow