The realisation that I was autistic came slowly and in pieces. When I look back, the earliest inklings were in my adolescent years, and many other clues were spread through my adulthood.
When I was studying for my Bachelor of Arts degree, I took some psychology classes. I enjoyed learning more about this “disorder” but sometimes struggled to understand why some of the characteristic (diagnostic) behaviours seemed to me to be very normal thoughts, feelings and actions. I was at the time seriously considering continuing with a psychology major, but I was counselled by the university careers adviser that there weren’t many jobs for psychologists and that perhaps I didn’t have the “people skills” for that career.
Then I became a mum. My first son had some difficulties in day care and preschool, with the teachers expressing the view that he had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). One medical professional suggested autism as a possibility, but I was not convinced. He was not like the autistic children I had read about. He was bright, articulate, funny, and loving. I thought he was perfect the way he was, but as he progressed through school he learned to behave like everyone else – a pattern I should have recognised.