Sometimes, living in the present moment where my life is constantly evolving it can be hard to realize how far I have come since getting my diagnosis 23 years ago. Sometimes it takes until you have a reminder of someone who has helped you get through the worst of times and only do what they knew what they could to try to help get through the day.
While there was always an inkling at a young age that I was indeed autistic, because of my abilities to articulate, the diagnosis was dismissed prior to the entry of grade school and as a result of challenging behaviors throughout those years my family took me to all kinds of professionals that constantly handed me a medication and diagnosis that seemed like alphabet soup. It would not be until 1998 until I received in-home services that someone working with me would realize that I needed university level professional help.
Once making the journey there and within minutes I discovered that I had Asperger’s Syndrome, which then fell under the autism spectrum. While it is not used to newly diagnose people, I like the many others that have been diagnosed in the course of the DSM-IV still get to retain that diagnosis. While attending a research study at the university, I also was linked up to the psychiatric team where it was discovered that I had many comorbidities of a host of mental health diagnoses. That was when the medications began and still continue today. I know that they are essential to daily living.
Through trial and error and a residential treatment facility placement at my worst when puberty decided to blend in, I got on the right cocktail of psychotropic drugs that I currently after a rumspringa of my own in recent years realize that are essential for daily independent living.
Regardless, back then, there were times back then that many wondered if I could even return home with my parents, graduate high school, or even experience post-secondary training. With the support I had way back then instilling the advocacy skills within my mother and father, they were ever so my strongest advocates and continually fought against the many who thought of myself being institutionalized, placed in group homes or denied the opportunities that they felt I deserved to have the same opportunity as everyone else.
That is probably after over two decades of being out of placement why I value so much of what my parents think of what I do even though I continually increase my ability to make independent decisions. I have done many things in adulthood that are noteworthy, like go on trips, attend community college, get a job, be independent, along with learning and obtaining a driver’s license. I must realize that at the age of 36 there’s many things that I need to do to continue my journey of being more independent and within time they will happen.
As I write this I cannot even imagine where my life would be if those who continually fought for my best interest were not present at certain intervals of my journey. Being able t do the things that I am able to do today is something that I do not take lightly because I too had to be invested in putting forth the effort of the opportunities that have been handed to me because I realized that if I did not use them to the best of my ability or was at my best, they could be easily taken away from me and I would become very regretful of making the wrong choices.
Getting to where I am now hasn’t been a perfect journey and it has for sure had some bumps along the way that could have easily returned me several steps back, thankfully with the support and help of others when I really needed it, I had the ability to bounce back rather quickly and am ever so grateful for those who were and are there for me when I needed them the most.
I have to admit that there’s days on occasion that i want to regress and not keep pressing on the journey that I am on, however I know of so many that look up to me and see all the things that I have been through and know that all in all what I am facing now is minimal to the things that I have experienced over the past few decades.