“This week is Neurodiversity Celebration Week, and I’m here to share my story…I’m neurodivergent, diagnosed at the age of 35.
People think I’m not neurodivergent because I’m able to function at a high level for 10 hours a day. People think I’m not neurodivergent because I’m married, a mother, a child psychologist, and a mental health advocate.
But I’m here to tell you, yes, I’m neurodivergent and high-functioning, and being high-functioning is not easy because nobody gets to see the 2 hours of intense preparation beforehand of my mind racing or the 6-hour recovery afterward. People think I’m not autistic because I don’t melt down, but when I do melt, then I’m rude and unpleasant.
I struggle in many areas, and today I’m listing very few of them. I cannot do online or phone banking, I struggle following the trends of social media because, by the time I get hang of it, a new feature is been added. I forget passwords, forget my appointments, forget to drink water, and forget to take my vitamins. I misplace and lose things frequently.
I have sensory issues: I can go three weeks without washing my hair, and I experience a complete physical intolerance to touch, light, smells, and noise. I cannot ride a bike or drive a car. My balance is appalling. I find eye contact painful, except with my family and close friends.
My mind flies in different directions constantly. I can plan three things at once in detail. I hyperfocus and can stay fixated on one task and at the same time have trouble focusing. I do purchase books and loads of art and craft supplies, but once they’re delivered, my focus shifts to another thing. I do impulse buying, I hoard things, and I don’t have to keep track of it.
I procrastinate and get things done at the last minute so much that I ignore taking care of myself. I can become overwhelmed by the number of things I am thinking. Getting into a routine is important for me. Textures are a challenge. One moment I am okay, the next time I’m not. I blurt out and can be inappropriate. I might forget your name but not your face.
I have a difficult time following instructions unless you are very, very specific. Directions. Don’t even get me started on directions. I’ll probably ask questions during the movie, I need subtitles, I might not understand a joke, and I have a horrible sense of time when it comes to laughing. I selectively mute in social settings and also I can keep talking nonstop on topics that are close to my heart until my brain freezes.
These are the areas that challenge me. Sometimes they challenge me to the point where I want to crawl up in my bed and hide and other times, I laugh it off. Things aren’t always easy, and I can’t tell you how many times I wish my brain ran in normal patterns and worked like everyone else’s.
I am me, a neurodivergent woman who has complex needs. I have Autism, ADHD, and sensory issues, and understanding that I’m neurodivergent has changed me as a human being. I’m now kinder to myself, I accept myself, and I don’t try to fit in anymore. I love that I’m different. I wish I could tell the little child in me that she was perfect just as she was and she didn’t need to change one thing about herself.
And, on this neurodiversity celebration week, let me just remind everyone who has a child who is neurodivergent that it’s not all negative to have a brain that works differently than most. Don’t teach your children to hate or hide their diagnosis. Have compassion, but don’t feel sorry for them. There is NOTHING they aren’t capable of accomplishing.
Teach them how to use their strength to their advantage, because there are so many advantages, and it is a tiny part of who they are. Help them love the way they think. Help them accept it and help them see the whole of the beautiful soul they are.
Give your neurodivergent child access to the neurodivergent community. Allow your child to grow up knowing that there are many others out there with Autistic brains who understand them, who are happy and thriving.
Autistic/neurodivergent kids need autistic/neurodivergent adults as role models, to make the world a better place for them, and to show them they’re not alone. They need autistic/neurodivergent adults who are out and proud about themselves. For this very reason, I’m sharing my story. Autism/neurodivergent is one word describing millions of different stories, and this is just a bit of my story.
This is my story, and I’m proud of who I am.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Joy Christin Johnson from Mangalore. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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‘You need to parent her like she is neurotypical and she’ll act like she is neurotypical.’: Mom shares difficult road to daughter’s autism diagnosis
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