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My Experience Of Autism: Living In A World Of Extremes

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My life appears to be a never-ending dance of bouncing between extremes while also being confused and annoyed that nothing is extreme enough. Please allow me to explain. When I was a child, I was really annoyed that things were imperfect. Why can’t everything be shiny, perfect, in order, and unblemished? Instead, everything is progressively decaying and/or being born only to begin the process of decaying. Yeah, I used to think about that a lot as a kid. Aaaand I still do. Although I’ve made peace with it since by necessity, I have to live here with all this decaying stuff (including myself, apparently, I started “dying” when I turned 27. Nice).

So, nothing is ever “extreme” enough because nothing is ever 100% perfect or 100% permanent. Yet my brain loves extremes and left to my own devices, I would probably work myself to death without any food or water. What’s funny is that this very autistic extreme way of living is actually what caused me NOT to think I was autistic. Why? Because I wasn’t autistic enough. In my world, things have to be extreme to be real. Let me give you an example. Unless something 100% incapacitates me, I don’t think I am incapacitated. So, if I break my bone (true story) and I can still run around, I don’t understand that it is an emergency or that I really broke my bone.

When I thought of autism, I thought of it in the extreme. Surely it would incapacitate me, and I wouldn’t be able to do what I have been able to do so I can’t be autistic. What my brain fails to regularly account for is the cost of things. You can run around after breaking your bone, but it hurts, that is why people say they “can’t do it.” Sure, you technically “can” but a non-extreme brain wouldn’t consider that a real “can.” Same with being autistic. If an allistic person inhabited my brain for a second, they would be like “OMG this is some painful sh*t, get me out of here.” Because going to the store or talking to an unknown human isn’t painful for them but it is for me. Although I can technically do it, I never thought it was a problem or could qualify as an autistic “trait.” Not all of my autistic traits are "extreme" but that doesn't make me less autistic.


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