Updated: Dec 5, 2019
Oh, I have never been good at writing these things. I never really know how to start, where I am going to go in it, or what my focus is; and that’s just for writing in general! Writing about myself? Good luck with that. I can probably talk for hours about myself, in a haphazard, off the rails, no direction way. But, when it comes to writing, I’ve always had issues getting what’s in my head, to being written or typed out. Even right now, as I type this, I know what I’d LIKE to say, but it’s just not... coming through. I can “see it” in my mind, clearly, kind of like I do with my photography. So, I’ll talk about that.
As far back as I can remember, I always had an odd look at the world, and never knew anyone who could “see things” that I could. That was in a variety of ways, be it behavioral patterns in people, patterns in nature, music, anything; I always had the “weird” view of things, or so I was told. This was most apparent, and most easily shown to others, with my photography. When I go to take a photo, even without a camera in my hand, in my head I’ve already pictured how it can come out, based on what lens I use, what settings I use, the composition and post processing / editing as well. But it doesn’t stop there; I can almost in a virtual reality setting, maneuver myself in a 360 degree radius around what my subject is, change the time of day, the lighting source, the weather, even the season, all within seconds in my “minds eye” as I like to call it. And I do that for everything, every single think I look at, it’s almost comical, whether I want it to happen or not, 9/10 times that’s how my brain processes visual input. And the more visual input? The more information. But, when I was younger, and even as recent as a few months ago, I never understood why “too much information”, visual or otherwise, could overwhelm me, and send me into either a panic like state, or a mental shutdown, or even both. It’s kind of like if you try to print too many things at once, the printer jams, but it doesn’t know WHY it has jammed. It could be too much paper, too many things printing at once, the wrong kind or size of paper; maybe there’s a dried bit of ink clogging the gears, maybe there’s... Well, you get the idea. That’s how my brain was, constantly being overwhelmed, and I had absolutely no idea why, I just knew it’s how I was, and for my entire life, I thought I was insane or broken.
Surprise surprise, I’m not. (No really, this was an actual surprise to me)
I’m Autistic. And what I just explained, is an example of visual overload due to hypersensitivity either from my Sensory Processing Sensitivity or Sensory Processing Disorder, depending on how my body copes with it and what’s going on. My panic states and mental shutdowns? Literally, Autistic Meltdowns and Shutdowns. They’re actually a thing! Or rather, I didn’t know that’s what was happening to me, until watching a few videos by Agony Autie on YouTube, and that was before my official diagnosis, but it is definitely what lead to it. My wife, a few weeks before me, was diagnosed Autistic, and we were watching Agony Autie’s videos to help both of us understand Autism better, from someone who’s actually autistic, and when we got to a part in one of her videos about meltdowns and shutdowns, something clicked, and I instantly started to tear up; we watched some more videos about related things (her “What’s That” series in specific) and it hit me like a tidal wave. I was crying, and I knew why. Every single thought in my brain was yelling as loud as it ever could “I am not broken, I am Autistic.” I sat there, bewildered, going through like flashes everything that had happened in my life, my childhood, how I manage things, how I literally see the world, and my shutdowns and meltdowns and it finally FINALLY all made sense.
About a week after, I saw my therapist, and I can distinctly remember this, because my wife finds it hilarious to this day; the first question was “Do you have difficulty understanding social situations and other people’s thoughts and feelings?”. My immediate response without even skipping a beat was “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.” This caused my wife to instantly belt out a laugh, and my therapist asked if I was serious, she thought I was being sarcastic, but even now I still don’t understand the question as it’s worded that way. I was “officially diagnosed” that day, but it was definitely not the start of everything, rather, it was an explanation for the long, strange trip I have called a life.
As for now, I’m starting this page, my own personal self advocacy page, along with starting Autistic Pride of USA with my wife, a group dedicated to Autism Acceptance and Autism Pride in the USA. I’m trying to be more active in the autistic community, and I’m doing everything I can to help make changes, in whatever way I can. My blog on my website will be for personal life experiences only, and any opinion pieces I write, and this page will be for my own life stories, articles and stories shared by other advocates, and any interesting news articles, memes, images, and all things related to being Autistic, and what the world is like through my eyes,
an Autistic lens.