Man Diagnosed with Autism as an Adult says it can be a Motivational and Inspirational Diagnosis
When we think about Autism we often exclude the adults that have it. Many of whom are just now being diagnosed as adults because Autism wasn’t widely diagnosed or understood when they were younger. 30 plus years ago we knew little about Autism, with the diagnostic rate sitting at 1 in 10,000 in the 1980s. In the nineties, prevalence was 1 in 2500 and later in the 1990s it sat at 1 in 1000. Now the rate sits at 1 in 59. So tonight, I decided to go back to my roots. You see, I started writing for emaxhealth by doing interviews with parents of Autistic children. So, I took some time tonight and sat down to interview an adult with Autism that I know. One that was diagnosed as an adult and has children with Autism. A person that is very near and dear to me.
The gentleman that I interviewed is my husband. We found out about 5 years ago that he has Autism through genetic testing that we did during the diagnostic procedures for our children. He was around 30 years old when he was diagnosed, and it was completely unexpected by me. The array of emotions that he felt at the time of diagnosis escaped me, as I didn’t understand how profound they were for him and still are to this day. This interview was one that I thought wouldn’t open my eyes to anything new, but I was wrong. As I should’ve expected- you always learn something new when you talk about Autism. Tonight, I learned a new appreciation for my husband.
Myself: “Chaz, when we started the genetic testing for Zain and Dryden did it ever cross your mind that you may be diagnosed through this process?
Chaz: “No, I honestly thought that the Autism came from the other side of the family. No offense, but there are traits there and Autistic children on that side. It just never crossed my mind. Now that I know I feel badly for blaming your side of the family for so long.”
Myself: “You are right though, I thought it came from my side too. There are so many Autistic children on my side of the family that finding out that it came from a duplication from you shocked me. I was geared up to find out that it came from me. I’ve never asked you, how did finding out that you and Zain have the same chromosomal duplication affect you emotionally in that moment; how is it affecting you now? I know it was a hard day for all of us.”
Chaz: “I broke down instantly. I just cried and felt so lost. I felt like it was all my fault in that moment. Like everything he had gone through and would go through was because of me. To this day I still feel this way. It bothers me every day. When Dryden was diagnosed it was like I was to blame all over again.”
Myself: “You know it isn’t your fault. It’s nobody’s fault. Our children are perfect the way that they are and there is no blame to be shifted around. However, knowing that you blame yourself, do you think you will ever learn to move past these feelings?”
Chaz: “No I don’t. I think I will always feel like it is my fault that the children have Autism. Every single time they struggle it hurts me because I feel like it is my fault. I know it isn’t ‘my fault’ but it just feels like it is sometimes.”
Myself: “We’ve discussed before that you wished you had been diagnosed as a child. How do you feel having undiagnosed Autism as a child affected you?”
Chaz: “I understand now that I had a lot of repetitive traits and patterns that pushed friends away. I’d want to play the same thing repeatedly, be it music or video games. They’d get tired of it and quit having me over. I had issues in school throughout. It was hard to focus, and I was bullied. I had to go to an alternative school because the large high school was too much for me. It affected me greatly. If it had been today I would’ve had a much better time during school and socially.”
Myself: “Do you think that having Autism affects you socially as an Adult?”
Chaz: “Very much so.”
Myself: “How so?”
Chaz: “I second guess everything that I say. I second guess every decision I make. I never know if I am saying or doing the right thing. I have a harder time with the social aspects now that I know than I did before I knew I had Autism though.”
Myself: “You are a very musical person, talented in all areas of music and able to play multiple instruments very well. Do you feel that you are more musically inclined because of your Autism?”
Chaz: “Absolutely, my Autism is the only reason I am so musically inclined. It helps me to feel the music.”
Myself: “Do you feel that your Autism benefits you in any other way than musically?”
Chaz: “It makes it where I have like a sixth sense with machines. I wouldn’t be half the machinist I am today if it wasn’t for my Autism. It has benefited me in my career and in my hobbies. Being that running on a routine is easier for me and always has been, having a job is second nature to me. It is a schedule I can depend on and base my life around. Having Autism isn’t always something to dread. It also helps you notice the details that others wouldn’t notice. The small things matter the most in a number of careers.”
Myself: “What would you say is the most beautiful and motivational part of being on the spectrum?”
Chaz: “Like I said, I notice the small stuff in life. The most beautifully small changes made to something, whether complicated or not, I notice them when others do not. I see the world through eyes that many will never get to see life through. I had a harder time accomplishing the things I did throughout my life, but I never gave up. I graduated high school through a smaller setting, alternative school and went on to raise a family and hold a job. All things that many Autistic children’s parents are told they will never be able to do. This leads me to have a greater appreciation for the things that I do have and have accomplished. I also have a deeper understanding for what is going on in my children’s heads because we share a diagnosis. It is like we have a special bond because we are all 3 Autistic and experience it in many of the same ways. Autism is often a motivational and inspirational diagnosis.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. He does have a special bond with our boys. Chaz is an incredible man that tackles his everyday challenges with grace and courage that he doesn’t get near enough credit for; as many adults with Autism do not get credit for their courage daily. It takes courage for all of us to wake up each day and go do what we need to do as adults, doing so with a disability that is invisible to the eye makes everyday tasks even more challenging.
We should take a moment to appreciate the adults with Autism in our lives. Celebrate their accomplishments, the accomplishments that many made without aid growing up. Like graduating high school and holding full time jobs. Many have successful careers and families that thrive because of them. They, single handedly, are all role models to me and give me great hope for my children as they grow and face adulthood in a few years.