My Diagnosis by Lauren Smith
Written on 15th Aug 2016 by Alex Lowery
Today we have a guest article Lauren Smith, who is on the autism spectrum and is very passionate about raising autism awareness. This article is about her diagnosis of autism in 2012. You can view a link to her Original article here. You can also view her Facebook Like Page here. You can view her main blog here. I hope you enjoy this article.
I, Lauren Smith*, aged 17, was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism in 2012 (when I was aged 13) Before my diagnosis, I realised there was something different about the way my mind worked, but I couldn’t ever fathom it out. This lead to me feeling confused and very isolated. I knew I was different from my peers. I felt different. I stood out from the rest of the crowd. One vivid memory of my primary school life was standing in the lonely corner of the playground, observing everyone rather than participating in play. I was picked on for not acting similarly to my peers – I was baffled as to why I felt I couldn’t just get involved. I was overwhelmed by the lack of support I received at school, especially when signs of autism became apparent, at the age of eight. Also, the difficulties understanding myself continued at home. I often became extremely stressed, particularly when I started secondary school. My severe anxiety and continuous frustrations took a toll on the whole family, causing numerous arguments. I would tend to be physically defensive when I was upset. The majority of the time, it was thought that I was having temper tantrums and had a bad ‘attitude’, however I now realise that what I was experiencing was an information overload and I was just trying to communicate how troubling my world seemed. Mum, unfortunately, was on the edge of a nervous breakdown and Dad was totally clueless as to how to appropriately handle the situation.
Girls on the autism spectrum are often missed because they’re mistaken for just being incredibly shy. After experiencing selective mutism for two years at primary school, an autism diagnosis was looked into. The journey to receive an official diagnosis was tough, exhausting and infuriating. However, I did eventually get told that my insecurities, stresses, anxieties and overwhelming sensations unleased to an autism spectrum condition.
Upon receiving my diagnosis, I felt relieved; I could stop trying so hard to conform and focus on the path to self-discovery (an adventurous and anxiety-provoking journey!) I have researched the condition endlessly and raising awareness of it has now become one of my passions. Autism is my special interest! At times I still feel overwhelmed and frustrated at the lack of appropriate support, therefore, I am trying my hardest to change this by encouraging society to embrace our differences and welcome the autistic mind. Sometimes, I feel as though I stand out like a sore thumb, especially in mainstream college. I struggle to understand why I should constantly fit in with others; why can’t neuro-typicals see things from our perspective? Despite still experiencing occasional depressive episodes, I have used my negative experience of other people’s ignorance towards autism in a positive way. Learning more about autism everyday motivates me to pursue my dream of supporting others with the condition.
The main thing I’ve realised since my diagnosis is that having autism is inspiring. There is always hope, never lose sight and give everything your best shot! You are worth it! You are loved!
*I have now set up my own Facebook page (My Rainbow Life) and have attended events at local schools to raise awareness of Autism. I have had a few of my poems published on websites and in magazines. I’ve also raised over £1,000 for an autism charity. I hope to create my own website and start public speaking to share my personal experience of living with High Functioning Autism (a battle; a rollercoaster!)
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