When I first heard mention of my little Bear, our youngest, at the age of 4 and the word Autism, I did, I think like many others might do and conjured up Rainman in my mind. Great film for Hollywood, but quite far from reality in my now more informed eyes. So like any parent, I immediately consulted good old Dr. Google to bring me up to speed with, what was soon to be, my new adversary. Dr. Google can be your best friend or your worst enemy, as most people will know, no matter what condition you are researching. I began researching online, reading page after page of information, read forums, viewed Facebook groups and watched clips on YouTube. The results were eye-opening, heart-breaking and really touched my heart in so many ways. The more I read and thought, “yep he does that…and that…and that…,” I realised I was on the right trail.
In spite of my own dislike of “support groups”, I made a choice to go to a local parents group. Not for friendship, but I think just looking for more answers, a “real” someone who could let me if I was truly on the right track or just barking up the wrong proverbial tree. The information from those many parents was invaluable to my novice knowledge. It was laughter, mixed with desperation, empathy and a little bit of Autism magic. I say this because I do truly believe that experience gives rise to true understanding and those parents I met that first night welcomed me openly and shared their most intimate stories about their wonderful and quite often cheeky little children in order to give their take on Autism. It was great to hear things from others experiences and being able to ask questions really made me more able to gain a ‘crystal ball’ view of a possible future as well as insight, and on some levels, it all scared the pants off me. However, every comment made conjured up more questions about Autism and how it might affect my young son and us all as a family, in trying to “possibly” deal with it and know what we were working with.
Months went by waiting for appointments for him. More research and reading commenced as I sifted quickly through parents comments, doctors research, tons of bad experiences from every direction. The more obsessed I became in trying to understand my baby, the more I started to recognise the traits in myself. It wasn’t my trying to fit into this Autism mould, but more that, while I always knew I was different, all those “weird” things I knew I did weren’t actually “normal”. I always knew I had some “issues”, I mean who doesn’t? I just put them down to what was a really horrible childhood and I don’t mean your “normal” crap childhood either. Then I came across a forum for adults, talking about Autism and AS forum which listed a few online tests, some in-depth and some quite basic. I thought, why not give it a go; at least I could rule it out and have a bit of a laugh with Adam and perhaps he could have a rest from me talking about it all at every opportunity. I thought any results either way might affect me, but didn’t really think too much about it. I’ve never been the kind of person who really cared what others thought about me and am happy in my life so didn’t really see point in not pursuing things. I also love a good quiz! Personality quizzes, IQ tests, quizzes about general knowledge, you name it, and I like it. Besides, who doesn’t like finding out information about themselves that they already knew but presented to them in a different way? That’s what I thought. So, I chose to take one of the tests that had good reviews, interesting information and was about 150 questions long and 90 minutes of my life I will never get back but that forever changed my life.
It actually amazed me how much I really like reading about me. My friends can tell you just how much I talk about myself so to read about myself was interesting. I am not sure if it is the fact that I like knowing just that little bit more about myself than perhaps I did previously or because I might discover unexplored areas of my persona or if it is just seeing all those little graphs with my name on it that make me laugh. Who’s to say? The questions seemed a little random and sometimes I thought perhaps there wasn’t enough detail in the question to answer correctly, but this analysis of the quiz only served to confirm its results. When I finished and read the results, to say shocked was not understatement. I think when I took the test I was expecting a “normal” result with a few little quirks. I certainly was not expecting the highly positive for Asperger’s results that came.
Next the obsession with the results came, the many hours of discussions with my poor Adam, who must have been bored out of his mind listening to me sift through every detail of the results to death. But as we know now, I am sure the Aspie in me didn’t really notice how disinterested he was in hearing it for the umpteenth time, or the hours of introspective scrutiny of every single behaviour I have or have ever had which was discussed later. Next, I hyper-focused on more additional research into females with AS, which to my surprise was not as plentiful as I’d hoped. It took me all of 2 weeks to finally make the decision to push forward with seeking a diagnosis or at the very least discount Autism and perhaps find the real cause for my behaviours. So, I moved on to planning the conversation with the GP. Now what was mean to be something about my gorgeous son, has become a discussion about my own self-interest. Surprised?