This essay was written a while ago. Although I am now in a vastly different place than the feelings shared in this essay, I am choosing to share it because I suspect some newly identified autistics may go through the same emotions.
I’m currently scared of writing about autism. Scared that I’m getting it wrong. Scared I’m perpetuating theories that aren’t true or perspectives that are inaccurate.
This isn’t an essay that can work its way to a positive ending. It ends where it begins - that there is so much unknown in the field and that I possibly contribute to the deluge of personal perspectives and accounts.
I’m not even officially diagnosed. My art therapist suggested I read “Divergent Mind” and it resonated with me. We then talked about it more. I could tell she was new to neurodiversity and didn’t have enough knowledge.
So I then paid thousands of dollars to work with an autistic coach. She clearly knew more about autism, but wasn’t able to shed much light on it for me. She didn’t provide the clarity I sought. She wanted me to find it all for myself. By asking me questions or pointing me to other resources. It was frustrating, though I understand her approach.
I wanted an autistic therapist. In the states though, mental health therapists are only allowed to see people within their states. I could only find one and she told me her practice was full.
Even now if I were to go for a diagnosis, I do not know where I would go within the state of Arizona and trust that it was an accurate assessment.
I want more clarity. I want more unification.
And so I have been seeking to provide that to myself and others. In my essays. In my gathering of information and presentation of it into my own groupings.
But what if I am wrong?
I have been wrong before in my life. I joined an entire church - the mormon one nonetheless. Then realized I had thrown myself into the deep end and left the church.
Have I just done the same thing?
You can justify anything you want. Am I doing that again with autism? Just seeking evidence to support my cause… because it feels so good if it is true?
It is further complicated by the matter that I work with autistic adults in my therapy practice. I know the work we do is clarifying and helpful.
But I cannot help but wonder that in 20, 30, or 40 years we’ll understand more.
I guess a lot of being where I am is accepting where the science and understanding is at. Accepting that I don’t have all of the answers and I have to make the best decision I can with the limited information I can.
And this is the path I choose with the limited information I have.
I guess it’s similar to my essay I just wrote on autism. I look at the options and this is the best one.
I guess what makes it feel a little more messy is the layer of publicity. That I write about all of this. That I work with all of this. I don’t want to rope people into my problems.
But I guess that is where autism and mormonism depart. When I became a mormon missionary, I had to think more deeply about all of the teachings. It was one thing to focus on what I liked about mormonism, but I had to teach everything the church taught. It was when I had to do that that I realized I didn’t like it all. There were many beliefs I didn’t agree with (such as teaching that homossexuality is wrong or tithing is necessary to be baptized).
With autism, I think the more I share the more I see it helps. The more I see positive social ramifications and a better life possible. It’s the opposite experience of what I had in the mormon church. The more I dig into autism, the more I see benefits and awareness and solutions and ahas.
And so I will keep going, even if I am deeply unsure.
Post Script: I am glad I let myself sit with the unknown and verbalize it in this essay. It was part of my process of developing the clarity, understanding, and assurity that I now have as an autistic adult and therapist.