Greetings Earthlings! 🙂
Welcome to my new blog ‘A Is For Aoife Not Autism’- a blog charting my experiences of life on the autistic spectrum.
After much encouragement from my friends and family, I decided to set up this blog to give you an insight into my world- a world that’s not as different as you may think.
As you’ve already guessed, my name is Aoife, and I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (a form of high functioning autism) as an adult at the age of 23.
Yep- I was diagnosed that late.
I know it’s hard to believe as most people are diagnosed as children, but adult diagnosis is quite common, especially where women are concerned (I’ll write a post focusing on female diagnosis/presentation at a later stage).
I’m expecting my ‘Best Actress’ Oscar any day now for fooling the world that I was normal for so long! 😛
To say that a gust of wind could have knocked me over when I got the news would be accurate! I’m fairly sure my face looked something like this:
…with added red cheeks and streaming tears! 😛
Being told that you are on the autistic spectrum is mind blowing. It felt as though my entire identity had changed in an instant. Imagine you had spent your entire life thinking that you were a dog, only for someone to tell you actually no, you’re a cat! A similar, but entirely different species!
The word ‘autism‘ itself was perhaps the hardest thing to process. Armed only with what I knew from films and books, I struggled to connect the diagnosis to my reality. And so I turned to Google to learn more about about this neuro-developmental disorder, devouring pages of information about abnormal brain pathways, genetic mutations and the plethora of symptoms that exist on the autistic spectrum. Slowly but surely, it all started to make sense, the jigsaw of my life falling into place piece by piece. Scholarly articles read like my own personal biography. They painted the portrait of a black and white thinker, uncoordinated and socially awkward. It depicted my struggles with change, my eating habits and my textural preferences (think Russell Brand and Jonah Hill in ‘Get him to the Greek’-stroke the furry wall!!).
It clarified everything I had ever wondered about myself, all my little habits and idiosyncrasies explained by one condition. Who knew that my very neurons had been conspiring against me in social situations for decades?!
At the time, I felt like I was no longer Aoife, but the product of the symptoms I was expressing.
It took me an entire year to feel normal again (or at least what constitutes normal for me!), and a further year to stop analyzing everything/explaining every single quirk to those around me.
Autism does not define me- it may influence many areas of my life and personality, but it is not my identity. I am Aoife, a girl who just happens to be on the autistic spectrum!
And so I decided to set up this blog for all you other ‘Aoife’s’ out there- you’re not alone! But more importantly, I’ve set this up to shine a light on the reality of living with an ASD. Too often we are force fed the ‘Rain Man‘ stereotype- a great film, but one that differs hugely from the reality faced by most individuals on the spectrum.
In this blog, I hope to take you on a journey to see the real face of autism (which isn’t Dustin Hoffman’s). I will share with you my own personal experiences of life with Asperger’s syndrome, scientific explanations of the condition, and some of the challenges faced by the community. In this way, I hope that you will better understand my world- a world that, until recently, looked very similar to your own.
So pull up a pew and get comfy-this is going to be fun 🙂