It’s been nearly 2 years since my diagnosis now, and in that time I’ve interacted with many wonderful autistic people, online and IRL, who have helped me a lot and I’m very grateful. But I’ve not met anyone with whom i have a lot in common. I know we are all unique individuals, but I really am a lot different from even most other autistic people. I’ve been thinking why this might be:
Finding my Tribe – it’s not happened yet!
I was a very solitary child. From the day I started school until I left at 18, I spent 90% of break times absolutely alone. In the holidays, I often didn’t interact with other children apart from my sister. Not unusual, maybe, for an autistic male, but pretty rare for a female, who will usually try to fit in with her peers. When I started secondary school, I spent a year trying hard to fit in. It didn’t work. I was too different from the others around me and preferred thinking, writing, reading, music practice over games and chat with my peers.
Despite this, I’ve always been a joiner of organised group activities around my special interests. In childhood it was Brownies, Guides, ballet, drama, church activity holidays. At uni it was choirs and Christian groups. Nobody forced me to do these, I went willingly, and for the most part enjoyed them. As an adult, I’ve been in various music and drama groups, and currently an autistic theatre group. I’ve always been more interested in the activities than the social side. I’ve joined in some social activities and avoided others. I’ve always tried to be kind and polite and get along with the other group members, but have never cared a great deal what they think of me.
I’ve never been much of a worrier. Travel to new places, new situations, meeting new people, doesn’t phase me at all. If it does, I just see it as a challenge to be overcome, like climbing a mountain. I get anxious if I find myself in a stressful situation, but I don’t dwell on it before or afterwards.
I have had pretty good mental health so far in my adult life. I put this down to my very autism-friendly upbringing. In my family, everyone was made to feel 100% valuable and loved. Special interests were encouraged, it was OK to talk for hours or to say very little, and stimming was not discouraged. So despite being called names and ostracised at school all through my teens, I turned out pretty OK. I’m aware most autistic folk aren’t so lucky.
So, I’m still waiting to find folk who I can REALLY relate to. My wife comes closest, we have a brilliant marriage and she understands me amazingly but she’s not autistic, and actually none of the above points apply to her either. If you’re reading this and can relate, do get in touch!