In 2011, when I was 39, two years before it was "folded," along with autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Asperger's syndrome, into the more broad autism spectrum disorder, I was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder - not otherwise specified (#PDD-NOS). The story surrounding my diagnosis is anything but usual, perhaps fitting with the adage, "If you know one person with #Autism, you know one person with autism." However, my case is, well, demonstrably unprecedented. There is a good chance that Canadian laws will change it the wake of my diagnosis; this is no exaggeration.
Things about me that contributed to my diagnosis included thumb sucking, a form of self stimulation, into my twenties; intense interests in subjects like the stock market and surfing; and social challenges. Other things about me that are common among autists, but are not part of the diagnostic criteria, include having experienced hundreds of violent, head-banging meltdowns; sensitivity to cold and certain materials; repetitive eating habits; selective mutism; poor verbal skills; poor fine-motor skills; and questionable hygiene.
Diagnosis carries responsibility
Since being diagnosed, and being given a piece of paper with the diagnosis written on it, I have been empowered greatly. However, a diagnosis of autism, particularly for adults, also carries responsibility: by taking this responsibility seriously, and consciously working toward a goal of avoiding meltdowns, I have reduced the number of occurrences dramatically. The responsibility carried by adult autists who care for themselves is to avoid situations where meltdowns may occur. Period.
This is not as simple as it may sound. For example, I have had only two autistic fits in the past four years, each time while being held in a jail cell, facing unconstitutional charges for my truthful #writing. Being arrested and jailed is something that is out of my control. However, it is my responsibility not to become anxious or meltdown when dealing with people in day-to-day situations, such an overbearing nurse, or a rude cashier. In formal situations, where I have concerns about meltdowns, such as face-to-face meetings that I am required to attend, I choose to be mute, insisting on only providing written answers to questions.
This may come as a surprise to my readers, from a writer with over one million published words, but, when I was diagnosed, I had only a few thousand published words, and I had never been paid for my writing. Autism is a complex subject, which many members of the general public, and some doctors, have little knowledge about. Part of my responsibility as a person with autism is also to educate people who come into contact with me about my strengths and weaknesses.
Put it in writing
I have previously encouraged those seeking ASD diagnoses to write clear letters to their doctors listing symptoms and the consequences faced. This is true for any situation life throws at us, for which we must communicate with others: logical, written statements carry more weight. For those with diagnoses, I have found that arriving at face-to-face meetings with a to-the-point letter explaining that I am autistic, that am concerned about having a meltdown, and that I won't be responding verbally, but that I would be happy to provide written answers, has worked wonders.
To my thinking, my writing career is simply a logical result of my autism diagnosis. I learned to write to get through life. I have recently resigned from 'The Inquisitr,' after close to two years, to focus on my writing with Blasting News; part of the reason is that BN has given me the freedom to write about autism, as it relates to me. Looking through the articles I have written with BN, it would seem to me that it would be obvious to anyone that I have a deep interest in stock trading, which I believe is related to my autism. It is this interest that has led to criminal charges, and may lead to changes in Canadian laws.