Life with autism has always been confusing. I have vague memories of, when I was little, my parents acting concerned about me and taking me to “Gateway” in my town of Ladner. They also took me to Salt Spring Island to have a lady there rub my head in “cranial sacral therapy” but I couldn’t understand what all this was about.
When I went to school, I preferred to spend time alone at recess and lunch, and I didn’t feel any need to make friends. There was even one incident which, today, I have very much come to regret. One day, at recess, a group of kids (a few boys) wanted to befriend me and play with me. I tricked them into leaving me alone by suggesting we go to the slide. I lined up at the very back, and ran away.
Throughout my schooling, I had teaching assistants. By this time, my sister was giving me the cold shoulder. It was inconceivable to me why she was resenting me, but in February 2017, she admitted that it was because she was jealous of all the attention I was getting.
To this day, my father remains deeply concerned that I have not yet had official employment (although I have watered my neighbour’s plants in the summer, and helped teach my mother cello for money), and that I am still living in their house.
I think I have come to understand why autistic and neurotypical people have such a hard time understanding each other. If a baby was born completely colourblind, such that all they could see was black and white and shades of grey, it would be impossible for that person, in any stage of their life, to understand colour. They could hear other people talking about colour and what it looks like, but there would be nothing in their experience to piece those explanations together into anything they could understand. It would be like someone living in a 2-dimensional universe attempting to understand 3 dimensions. I believe this is the reason why autistic people have such a hard time fitting into society, and understanding neurotypical people.
On many occasions, I have found myself depressed, hopeless, and even contemplating suicide, but with the assistance of family, friends, and my autism psychologist, I have come to understand my autism as a gift to see the world in a new way that others cannot. Indeed, if everyone thought the same way, humanity could never progress.
– David Hopkins
This is the sixth in an ongoing Vancouver Is Awesome series written by people on the Autism spectrum. View the archive HERE.