The A Word

by | Mar 31, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

In March 2022, it was confirmed that I am Autistic.

Suddenly, the last 29 years of my life made sense. I reflected on my childhood and teenage years and every struggle I had experienced. I did extensive research, from books, podcasts and videos and it all pointed towards the A word. I guess you could say I felt relieved. But there were many other emotions that I also had to go through including guilt, shame, sadness and anger. It has been a complicated journey. I am still learning to accept my limits and accommodate my needs and it isn’t easy.

I’ve always felt different but I didn’t have a reason, a label or an idea why. And I’m not alone in this. I am one of many, in a sea of lost girls and women, who are being diagnosed later in life with Autism. Why? Well, only now are experts educated and more aware of how Autism manifests in girls and women. It has always been considered a male-focused condition and that is why so many Autistic females have gone under the radar for so long.

Autism is a big part of my identity. It is how my brain works, it affects my personality, how I communicate and the way I perceive the world. And although there are many ways that I feel Autism hinders me, there are some beautiful ways that it helps me in my life. There are many positives of Autism for me including, my creativity, my strong sense of justice, my innate attention to detail, my childlike whimsy and my talents and intelligence. Most of the time, I accept my neurodiversity and embrace the fact that I am Autistic.

But of course, there are daily struggles that I have, many of which are not visible to the people around me. The world is a loud, chaotic and noisy place. Auditory processing disorder is common in Autistic people and unfortunately, this is something that I experience too. Imagine two trains are coming in opposite directions and someone is telling you to focus on just one. This is how it feels for me every day. When there is a cacophony of sounds, I struggle to focus on just one. If loud music is playing, I find myself trying to read people’s lips because I can’t focus on their voices. It isn’t because I’m being ignorant or rude. I just can’t tune out the other noises as neurotypical people can. And this can lead to frustration and exhaustion in social scenarios.

Communication is also another way that Autism affects me. I’m always the last one to understand the joke. I can be naive and I don’t always see people’s intentions. I believe every person is good and this has led to me being mistreated so many times. I’ve always felt like I stand on the outside of the circle in social situations and this has made making friends and keeping them, difficult for me. My brain also processes things in more detail, which means it can take me longer to understand and reflect on big changes that occur in my life.

Another way that my Autism affects me is through my sensory input and output. Autism is a spectrum condition, which means every person has different levels of sensory needs. For me, this is high on my spiky profile as a weakness of mine. I have a heightened sense of smell, sound and texture. This means there are certain textures that I don’t like to touch and I have a lot of foods that I won’t even try. I’ve always been a picky eater and I have a beige diet, as many Autistic people do. My sense of smell isn’t a fun one because I often feel overwhelmed by unpleasant scents that other people can’t detect. The most distressing one for me though has to be sound. I don’t like sirens, dogs barking or motorbikes. Many other sounds feel painful to me but these three are the worst.

As Autism Acceptance Week draws to a close I am learning to be authentic and love every part of myself and embrace my neurodiversity. It’s not an easy journey but I am getting there, one step at a time.

Written by Emma-Jane Barlow

 Emma-Jane Barlow is a 30 year-old author, poet, writer and autism advocate from the UK. She has been writing poetry since the age of seven and finds comfort in writing about her life experiences. She has two published books and is currently working on a third.

You May Also Like:

Twenty-Nine

Twenty-Nine

What if my destiny is to claw my way to greatness? — Emma-Jane Barlow (From Weeds, Sins & Sunflowers, 2022) It is the eve of my 29th birthday. Every year I like to reflect on the year that has passed but before I started to write this, I read my last two birthday...

Twenty-Eight

Twenty-Eight

Tomorrow is my 28th birthday. And like I do every year, I am writing a birthday eve blog post. This is something that I like to do, to reflect on my life for the past 365 days. 28. Sometimes I feel like I fit into the mould of "old soul", I have been through so much...

Twenty-Seven

Another year has passed. It has become a tradition for me to reflect on my life for the past year, the night before my birthday. Tomorrow I turn 27. It's a strange world that we are living in right now. With a global pandemic, lockdowns across the world and an...

0 Comments

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *