What it was like growing up autistic

For the first 11 years of my life, I went undiagnosed. The signs were there but no one knew much about autism back then. When I was 4 years old, my mom got married to a man who ended up abusing us both. I was abused for a lot of my autistic traits. I ended up having to mask my autistic traits from a very young age to keep myself safe but of course I just continued to be abused no matter what. When I was 10, I was taken away from my mom due to the abuse and I went to live with my grandma and uncle. My uncle is the one who had my legal custody since he spoke English. While staying with them, they kept bringing up my behaviors to the DYFS worker and then they ordered that I see a psychologist for an evaluation. At this point I was 11 years old and that’s when I received the diagnosis of autism and ADHD.

School was very hard on me because I never was able to fit in with the rest of the students. I was bullied for most of my school years. I was always seen as odd and weird and people hated me for being so different. I was very vulnerable because I was so trusting and wasn’t able to see the red flags at the time. I thought these people were my friends. But they would laugh at me and steal from me and I was always the last one to understand the “joke”. Eventually I was told “they’re not laughing with you, they’re laughing at you.” That’s when I realized I was the joke and it really hurt my self esteem. I’ve had several suicide attempts but yet I’m still here so obviously there must be a reason for my existence.

I’ve always felt misunderstood. Growing up, I didn’t know much about autism either, so it was very hard living life without even fully understanding who I am and why I do the things I do. I would’ve never even known about the diagnosis if I wasn’t snooping through all paperwork that my uncle had piled up in a folder. And even after the diagnosis, no one really tried to help accommodate my needs or even try to understand what my needs were. My family saw my suicide attempts as a manipulative tactic. Everyone thought I was an attention seeker.

I tried so hard to live up to everyone’s high expectations but it was never good enough. Everything I did and said was wrong. Everything was considered bad behavior and being defiant but no one cared enough to get to the root of the problem. I was communicating but no one wanted to listen.

It wasn’t until my early 20s when I started doing more research about my diagnosis and really started to understand it. And it’s all because I felt like I was regressing and then spoke to my psychiatrist about what I was experiencing and feeling. She helped me understand that I was just going through autistic burnout. That’s when I came to the realization that I owed it to myself to start doing the things that wasn’t done for me as a child. I slowly started to accommodate my own needs. I still feel burned out but it’s a little easier to manage when I can fulfill my sensory needs.

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