53 years ago the world was a different place. Things we take for granted now either did not happen then or were as rare as hen’s teeth. We have evolved so much since I was born 53 years ago; our knowledge is greater now than at any other time in the history of mankind. We can do so much now that seemed impossible then. We understand so much more now and are able to make people’s lives so much better now than we could back then.
When I was born, kids with ‘difficulties’ had to clearly show 9 particular symptoms in order to be given an official diagnosis of autism, and even with that diagnosis, there wasn’t much real help available. If, like me, you didn’t clearly display all 9 symptoms, you were stuck with the label ‘problem child’ and had to deal with it however you could, which was usually not very well. Mother always knew I was autistic but without that official diagnosis, I was just another weirdo, the problem child, the horrible child who embarrassed everyone. However firmly you know in your gut what your problem is, unless you have it validated by those who know, you grow up believing you really are just a horrible person unworthy of friendship.
With the passing of the years, the medical field has increased its knowledge and understanding of the way we humans work and Autism is treated much more effectively. Diagnoses are more accurate and the help available is not bad, especially for children diagnosed today.
Finally, after 53 years, I got my diagnosis. Having what I always knew to be true, validated is a substantial comfort when you’ve spent half a century being told you’re just a horrible person who is unworthy of friendship or love. I am not labouring under the misapprehension that I will be snowed under with offers of help that will suddenly net me dozens of friends and invites to parties. No, I’m many things but stupid is not one of them. I’ve spent too many years without any help, learning to cope alone or just withdrawing when I can’t, to believe any help is out there for me now.
What it does give me is the chance to say, “No, I’m not a horrible person. I have autism.”