To the teenager who was just diagnosed with high functioning autism,
I would first like to say welcome to the club, with some of the greatest people you’ll probably ever know. Believe me, I know how you feel right now. You’re probably feeling really overwhelmed right now. Which is completely ok. I went home after I found out and curled up in a ball for hours and cried. And that’s ok. You need to take time to let yourself digest this. Just remember: it doesn’t change who you are.
I found out about my having autism in a very…unhelpful way, through a friend who had read it on an attendance list and acted as though it was a bad thing. Since I knew absolutely nothing about autism, I naturally assumed she was right. My other mistake was how I tried to learn about autism. Being a teenager, I would be willing to bet you are already looking on your phone/laptop/some other device. Put it down. Just do it. The ONLY thing that will accomplish is convincing you that this is the worst thing that could exist in the world. And that’s probably what it feels like. I won’t make it sound better than it is and say this isn’t going to be hard. Because it is. Because there are going to be days where it feels like the whole world is in your way, where every word a person says just confuses you more. So no, this isn’t the easiest path that we could be on.
I spent about a year after my diagnosis hating everybody in the world, and myself. I felt like I was never going to amount to anything. And I will not lie in the eyes of some people, we will not be anything. And you will probably be told not to care about those people, which, I know is very, very difficult. So I suggest something else. Don’t pretend they don’t exist, use them as your motivation. When you read or hear people saying you can’t do anything, lock it away in your brain and, when you accomplish something, you can tell them in your head that you are better than people think you are. It’s a wonderful feeling.
When I was first diagnosed, the biggest thing that was hard for me was that my parents acted like it didn’t exist. I didn’t (and haven’t) spoken to them really about it and it takes a toll sometimes. I would advise to just talk to them. Just talk. And I know talking is hard and bad and miserable and confusing and frustrating and a thousand other things. If you don’t talk to them, though, you are going to spend a very long time wondering what they think and forming incorrect pictures of them and yourself. Maybe it’ll be a five-minute conversation. Maybe it will take five hours. But you have to try to get them to understand, at least a little bit, who you are and if they do that, you guys can help each other.
The last thing that you should know is about school. I am going to sound harsh here, but public school (especially middle school) is the worst idea anyone ever had and I wish it did not exist. I don’t know how your experience in school has going, but since I am a pessimist I shall assume you’ve had at least some…troubles. Some teenagers seem to find pleasure in the harm of others they feed off of our hurting. This ends in us being used for them to feel better about themselves. And I know how badly it sucks. Believe me when I say I know. The last thing I ever wanted to do was go to people and tell them about it because, when I did this, nothing was done. But you have to try. You have to try and change it because even if you can take it, which you may well be able to, we can’t all. We just cannot all take what some of us go through. So, please, try.
I know this is one of the scariest things in the whole world right now. I know you probably don’t even know how you feel. I sure didn’t. But, all this diagnosis changes is how people treat the things you have troubles with. And I know its probably the last thing you feel right now, but be proud of this. Its part of who you are, embrace it.
Someone who has been there