One Year In

One Year In . . . so what does that mean?

For me it means I've just marked the end of the first year of my diagnosis as an Autistic Women.

I've experienced a range of emotions, from relief that I finally had answers, to the stages of Grief that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined in her book On Death and Dying, to anger at what I felt was lost that I could not get back.

It's not that I literally died, but that in order to live in this world, the Neurotypical world that is, I felt I had to take on another identity. Pass, fit in, pretend to be someone I was not. Being a chameleon is exhausting and I am so done with it.

The stages of grief that I've felt over the past year have been about me realizing all of the ways that I was denied my identity, either by others, or myself, in an attempt to fit in.

For a long time I internalized the anger and grief I felt, wondering what was wrong with me that I did not fit in. That no matter what I did, I felt I had no place where I felt at home.

After my diagnosis in December 2014 I was able to begin processing and releasing the anger and grief in a healthy way. To understand the medical professionalsover the years who never saw what was going on, who totally missed my diagnosis, or mis-diagnosed me.

I understand better now what it means to be an Autistic Women and how much was an unknown about Autism when I was born in 1961. Girls and women were not the focus. Even now there is still so much left to learn about girls and women who are Autistic. We are finding our voices as we become diagnosed, whether that is self diagnosis, or going through with testing and having a formal diagnosis.

Our voices are beautiful and powerful and show up in all kinds of ways. We don't have to be verbal to shout down stereotypes. We can be powerful through our abilities as writers and using assistivetechnology when it's needed, or helpful. For others our voices may come though our creative mediums in painting or sculpture or some other art form. We might be machinists or engineers, or working in the health care system. We are women, partners, spouses, mothers, sisters, daughters and more. We love, and we are loved.

Over the past year I've read several helpful books written by women who are Autistic. Some of them have been personal biographies and others have been a collection of stories of women who are Autistic.

In the coming days I'll be creating a suggested reading list of these books and posting the list here on Wisdom Tara.

These stories inspire me and fill my heart with hope that together we are are astrong voice bringing change for the better. I have a voice too and I am adding it to our growing numbers.

The post above was written as an entry for my blog Wisdom Tara on January 1, 2016. I'm transferring over those posts that I have written since the beginning of this year to Aspien At Heart ©.

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