For today’s Ask an Autistic Person, meet Dave, a man who got diagnosed as an adult like Scott, but who has his own perspective on what it’s like to have autism. I feel honored to connect with all these wonderful people and I hope enjoy learning about them just as much as I do. Read on to learn more about life with autism according to one man with autism.
- At what age were you diagnosed with autism and how did the diagnosis come about? I was diagnosed at 29. I had always felt “different” from other people, and at some point I learned enough about Asperger’s Syndrome to do some research. After becoming convinced that this was me, I requested a formal evaluation and received an official diagnosis.
- Do you feel that your parents support/supported your needs well? Yes, I think they supported me well. Although I didn’t receive a diagnosis as a kid, my parents kind of knew I was “special,” and I think they did a pretty good job of working with that.
- I’ve heard some people say we should refer to you as a person first (a person with autism) but others feel that it’s okay to say someone is an autistic person. What do you feel is the correct way to talk about someone having autism? I think “autistic person” sounds better. I don’t think autism is something that can be separated from the individual the way something like multiple sclerosis can.
- Do you feel overwhelmed by environmental stimuli? If so, can you explain how it feels (for you) to have a strong reaction to sensory stimuli? Yeah. I can have a hard time “separating” sounds from each other, so for example if a bunch of people are talking and there are a lot of environmental sounds, say at a fair, it will sort of all blend together into this loud noise. It causes a lot of stress and anxiety, basically. If it gets bad enough I tend to shut down and isolate into my own world.
- Are there ways in which you feel limited by your condition? If so, how? I have always had a very hard time dealing with other people. Had I known that this was due to autism I suppose I would have felt limited, yes. It has made it hard to make friends and caused some issues at jobs in the past. I do a decent job of working with it, though. I don’t necessarily feel like there’s anything I absolutely couldn’t do because of being autistic.
- How can having autism have an impact on someone’s behavior? I imagine it probably impacts all of their behavior. This is a hard one to answer because I don’t really know what it’s like to not be autistic!
- Follow-up: How can parents, teachers, etc., help someone with autism to make it through a situation that’s creating frustration for them? I think the best thing someone could do for me would be to help me step back from the source of the frustration while also encouraging me to not isolate. This one really depends on how high or low-functioning the autistic individual is, though.
- What is the most annoying thing anyone has ever said to you regarding autism (and why did it annoy you)? Can’t honestly think of anything. I’ve only just recently found out I have it, after all.
- Do you think there is a cure for autism? More importantly, would you want to be cured of autism? Feel free to elaborate. I do not think there is a “cure.” I am sure that there are ways to minimize the possibility of having an autistic child, but I don’t know how you would cure autism without totally rewiring the person’s brain. As for wanting to be cured, I don’t think I would. Although I certainly have some behaviors that could stand to change, overall I like the person I am, and I think removing the autism would change that person too much.
- If you could tell society anything, what would you want to say (try to keep it PG)? That autistic people are still people, deserving of all the courtesy and respect anyone else would get.
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I hope to soon begin the next series where I ask parents some questions about living their lives with autistic children.