It took me 4.5 years to process my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. For a short stretch of my life, I lived and breathed all things autism. Social media and blogging became my staples. Blogging transitioned into publishing my first book—and my first book, into further autism saturation. Much like a plunging, yellow-feathered duck, I dipped and dipped into the waters; only, my waters were autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
I’m on the shoreline now, fairly dried, and extremely rinsed. Accordingly, I am reclaiming aspects of myself that I left behind, when the diagnostic-winds first came, at the age of 44, (shortly after my mental health therapist confirmed my suspicion of having Aspergers).
I learned leaps and bounds about ASD, through prolific readings, over 800-pages of my online writings, and 1000s of correspondences with folks on the autism spectrum (and those that believe that they are Aspergian). I keep learning!
Today, I am able to view myself in a brand new light. I am able to celebrate who I am. I am able to live comfortably in my own skin. I am able to live without second-thought about whether or not I am enough, without questioning where I belong, without worrying I am somehow designed wrong, flawed, and in need of repair. I am able to smile at my beauty. I am able to love what is around me and what is inside of me. Perhaps most substantial is my ability to accept all aspects of who I am, and in that way accept the way in which others exist—both autistic and non-autistic. The results of my autism journey have been fascinating, exhilarating, frightening, and amazingly healing—all at once.
Through my learnings and growing, there came a time to pull back, regroup, and begin again, outside the arena of autism. At first I thought I had to pull back entirely, find a new interest, disown aspects of myself as they pertained to ASD. My natural reaction was to swing to the opposite side of the pendulum: to go from all in to all out! Eventually, I moved back toward the middle and was able to incorporate my new findings, and essentially my new self, with aspects of who I had always been. I reclaimed the little girl lost and that confused woman—the one filled with bewilderment as an adult processing she was autistic.
Coming to terms with my autism and embracing autism came much akin to a toddler learning to walk. I stumbled, I bumped and banged, I wobbled, I gripped, I wept, I pulled myself up again. And in the end, I could not only run, but leap across ginormous chasms. I’d become that which initially seemed impossible: a grown woman who loved herself.
I owe this love to autism. I owe it to the others I met on my journey, and equally so to my mind’s capacity to take what was a perplexity—my diagnosis—and piece myself together into a brilliant masterpiece. I see myself now as complete, entirely complete.
For those that wonder what a late-age diagnosis of autism brings to a person, I would say that the experience varies from person-to-person. Like any news, we each process information using the tools we bring to the situation. For myself, those tools were a keen mind to dissect and put back together what was in essence the self through the lens of autism. Undoubtedly, aspects of this process were painful. Dissection, by definition, involves scissoring through and opening up the inside. Undoubtedly, aspects of the process were delightful. That yin-yang dynamic carried through; still does. Regardless, a gift waited at the end mark. And that reward was self-acceptance.
What can a late-age diagnosis offer? I can only speak of my own autistic journey, as one neurodivergent on her path of truth. In totality, if given time, I imagine my testimony would be pages thick. Yet overall, there is an overlying theme, key words that can ultimately wrap up the experience in a tight, bright bow—the color of your choice. My top twelve glad tidings, in ascending order, would include:
About Samantha Craft
Autistic writer and artist, Samantha is best known for her prolific writings found in her well-received blog and book, Everyday Aspergers. A former schoolteacher, with a Master’s Degree in Education, Sam has been published in peer reviewed journals, been featured in autistic literature, and has completed several graduate-level courses in the field of counseling. Some of her works, especially The Ten Traits, have been translated into multiple languages. She is well known in the autistic community for bringing awareness to Asperger’s Syndrome. Diagnosed with Aspergers in her mid-forties, Samantha is sensitive to the emotional challenges a late-life diagnosis can bring. She also understands the gifts of being on the autism spectrum. To date, since 2012, Samantha has corresponded with thousands of adult autistics. She has researched Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) since her middle son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2005.
For more information see myspectrumsuite . com
Sam’s book is available in many countries on Amazon.com