Since I have high functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome, a lot of the harshness of the disorder probably doesn’t sink in with me. I don’t see “the big deal” of autism. I don’t understand people’s hopelessness with the disorder or their fears that their child won’t have a normal life. I guess part of it is also because finding out I had autism was not a burden to me.
Autism has always been and will probably always be just a name to me. When I was diagnosed with autism and my mom gave me a rough explanation of what it is, I didn’t see the point of the diagnosis. To me it didn’t change anything- having a diagnosis didn’t make me feel any different, it didn’t help me make friends any easier, or make life any easier, or change anything in my life. Autism was simply a name that someone had decided to call what made me different. I still feel that way about autism. Autism is a part of me just like playing sports is a part of me or liking music. It’s not something I feel I can separate from myself and it’s not anything that was thrust upon me when I was diagnosed.
Now in saying that autism is just a name, I’m not saying that autism is not a real disorder. Autism is a real disorder and really does affect the people with it. However, I don’t think that getting an autism diagnosis changes you. I don’t think that babies contract autism. I think that we’re born with autism. The only question is how long it will take for someone to say the name of autism in association with our symptoms. Some people have autism and are never diagnosed with it. Some people have autism and aren’t diagnosed until they are adults. I don’t think that it matters when you are diagnosed or how you are diagnosed. If you have autism, then the name fits and you add that name to your other lists of names and move on.
The one thing that I do believe helps with getting the autism name is the support. If you will get more support from having the diagnosis of autism, then it is worth getting the name. Otherwise, autism is just a name.