Thoughts on Growing Up With Autism

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This post will contain a collection of short journal entries I wrote recently about what it was like emotionally to grow up with autism. These thoughts specifically dealt with bullying and (for me) the most confusing time of adolescence, which was middle school and the beginning of high school. By the last couple years of high school I had figured some things out and learned how to “pretend” to fit in a bit better, even though deep down I still felt like an oddball.

Here goes:

I hated always being the butt of the joke – even among friends. I was naive. I was gullible. I was trusting. Too many times I was set up for humiliation or embarrassment.

In an effort to avoid this embarrassment, I quit trusting anyone. I quit taking anyone at their word. I became suspicious. I struggled to identify sarcasm, so I started assuming ALL was sarcasm unless I knew someone well enough to tell the difference. 

Due to this struggle with recognizing sarcasm, how many “mean” comments did I take to heart that were meant in jest? How many cruel words that cut me to the core, were never even meant to be cruel? When boys would say they liked me and I would take it as them mocking me and choose to ignore them or laugh at their “joke”, did I instead end up hurting their feelings in an effort to save my own? 

Bullied for my weight during middle school, accused of having a lack of “feeling” or frustrating others who thought I didn’t care about anything because I suffered from selective mutism under stress, constantly feeling reminded that I wasn’t “feminine” enough – this was much of my teenage experience.  

The common thread throughout was that I unknowingly made myself a target for abuse. The way I dressed. The way I talked. The way I acted. I was so desperate for acceptance and approval, but I reached for them in ways that were socially unacceptable to those around me and ended up only painting the bulls-eye larger on myself.  

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19 thoughts on “Thoughts on Growing Up With Autism

      1. Pretty much most of it, except flipped. Like a funhouse mirror. I was lonely and didn’t know how to relate to people my age. Kids my age were stupid or petty. I was an attention seeker, but because I didn’t care what people thought of me, I was a weirdo. I’d say stuff that wasn’t factual but it was figurative. It expressed what I was feeling inside (I’m a witch, I’ll turn you into a toad, but I won’t because I’m better than that). I got made fun of a lot for acting weird so I wasn’t good at making friends. I finally made a friend and she was fucking weirdo too. We was bullied and she brought her shit on herself. I’d try to tell her but she too thought she didn’t have to change herself for anyone. So I just made sure to be extra nice to her. In high school it got worse, she was outright spouting these insane witchy power things and I’m like you can’t possibly believe this, or if it’s a game I want to play, or just stop making yourself a fucking target. I stood by her as much as I could but then I also became sick of sticking up for her. I stopped hanging out with her and was sick of her shit. I felt like she hated herself so much that she tried to make me hate her too. She’d get all depressed and ask me questions and I’d tell her the truth of what I thought but tried to emphasise it was an opinion and didn’t mean anything. She’d lash out at me in jealousy for hanging out with other people. It was a love hate relationship. I guess. We kept coming back to each other and it’d be good, then she’d do something fucking idiotic to piss me off again. She took a mental health course and whoa and behold right after learning about schizophrenia, she got diagnosed, and seemed so proud and relieved about not having to work. I don’t know what she’s doing now but I can’t find her on social media. I want to find her and apologise for having mean thoughts about her, but try to explain my position… and for her to… Forgive me and acknowledge that maybe I meant something to her. That maybe I helped her somehow??? She was always this amazing fucking writer, she was all “English is a piece of cake.” And super creative. She CREATED original shit. And I was her muse I guess. I don’t like holding on to hate. I don’t hate, it’s too “heavy”. I always tried to fucking… hold it all in because I didn’t want to inflict on people. I just… I just didn’t know why we couldn’t just say what we mean and not think it’s an attack. If we didn’t like something or we thought something else was better, so what, it doesn’t mean anything because it’s not important. All that is superficial. And superficiality it fun but it’s not everything…

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      2. I can understand that. I often felt like a fraud too, especially as I got older and felt like I had to “act” in order to fit in. I felt so fake pretending to be “normal” when I wasn’t.

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      3. Yes! But also, what even is normal? What is normal for you won’t be normal for someone else! And to recognise that everyone feels like that. We are all different, but it is BECAUSE WE ARE DIFFERENT that unites the beauty and magic of existence on earth. That we are all capable of love and light and fear and violence, that we have infinite potential… But there’s no point in having infinite power if there’s no one to share it with… competition, lover, rival, support.. you can have a fight with someone, but you’re family and Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind. And yes, I learned everything I have from the teacher I had available to me: tv. Thanks media, you’ve always been like a mum to me.

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  1. Thank you for sharing this. Growing up is hard and even more so when it’s difficult to understand all that is happening around you. Kids are cruel too and will pick up on the smallest thing. I hope you find things easier now.

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      1. I can imagine. Have you learned techniques to help you cope as you grew up? My daughter copes well but throws herself into YouTube, books and music when she is home from school. She is only 10 but clearly finds it necessary to detach herself after activities. She comes home and tells me about her day and I have to discuss what people possibly meant as she doesn’t understand tone of voice and different ways of using language.

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      2. I always kind of naturally turned to music, movies, books, and other sources of diversion when things get bad. I am an obsessive type of person that truly loses myself in my passions and that often helps me get by. I didn’t really get any counseling or help growing up, but I do see someone now that has helped a lot.

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