Simon was diagnosed autistic in his late 30s and says this was the best thing that ever happened to him.
The diagnosis meant he no longer had to change.
This is what autism looks like.
I was diagnosed with autism in my late 30s, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Before that, I had suffered the worst thing that could ever happen to a parent — the sudden death of my 3-year-old daughter.
I was utterly lost and felt like I was on the scrap heap. For years, I had been trying to prove to myself and others that I was not a failure, and that I was not a terrible father because I felt that I had failed to protect my daughter.
I became so focused on proving my self-worth that I kept moving from one role to another, promotion after promotion.
I felt that whoever I worked for at the time would think I was worthless, and the constant reminders that ‘life goes on’ made me feel like my past achievements meant nothing to anyone other than myself.
I felt no one wanted to take a chance on me, and I was being viewed as ‘damaged goods.’
This feeling of worthlessness was further compounded by the fact that I have been made to feel worthless on several occasions.
Ten years after my daughter’s death, I was finally diagnosed as autistic.
This was thanks to a very observant GP who noticed my traits, how my brain was perceiving things, my relentless focus, and why cognitive behavior therapy had not worked for me.
Receiving a formal diagnosis was a massive relief for me, as it allowed me to understand why my life had been so difficult.
When I heard the diagnosis, I couldn’t help but cry — but this time, it was a relief, as I finally realized that I am not a problem but rather unique.
Autism Diagnosis Was a Turning Point
My diagnosis was a turning point in my life. It allowed me to understand myself better and the environment I needed to be in to be successful.
I realized I was valuable, but only in a supportive and welcoming environment.
I had been in toxic environments before, and it had been difficult for me to function in them.
But now I have the knowledge to ask myself, “Do I need to change?” and I know the answer is no.
With this newfound understanding, I could get off the scrap heap and start rebuilding a future with my family.
I have had great success in my MBA, achieving a distinction, encouraging me to start a PhD.
I have also created a business based on my neurodiversity synergy framework, which has been met with much positive attention.
This is opening many doors for me. As an autistic person, I am aware of the potential that all autistic people must contribute if they are allowed to shine within an inclusive environment.
I am proud to be part of the rebuild and to be able to demonstrate that autistic people are worthwhile.
Simon Preston is a math tutor for Sherpa Online, a lesson space that combines video calling software with their own interactive online whiteboard, offering tutoring in a variety of subjects.