It was important that I knew I had Autism, not so that I could define myself by it, but knowing means I can now look back on my experiences and rightly place each of those experiences.
It is fair to say that I was never encouraged to think independently as a child. Not knowing about my sensory issues as a child kept me in the dark. Having decisions made for me did help with my difficulties, because I generally coped better.
Sensory issues flag up so many issues that you don’t always understand and without the understanding, it’s easy to stress about those issues, or place your experiences elsewhere.
I can now recall and place my experiences better: I remember going to guide camp. Even before I got to camp, the whole idea filled me with trepidation. Having got to camp, I remember feeling incredibly scared, so scared my stomach was in knots. I remember feeling panicky and being completely out of my depth because it was a new environment.
By tea time those in charge had already called my parents for them to come and take me home. The whole camp thing didn’t look or feel right and it was the not feeling right that made me homesick. The open spaces made everything look and feel scary. Everything about camp felt scary. I can remember those feeling as if they were yesterday. They are the same feelings I get when I work through anything new.
Another memory comes to mind. Being invited to stay with family in Grimsby for a few days and my mum dropping me off at my father’s work because he was taking me. But I froze because I knew I couldn’t and didn’t go through with it.
Since my diagnosis and for the first time, I am able to place my experiences down to sensory issues that I didn’t know I had.