I was diagnosed autistic in middle age and will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of this diagnosis.

Many will wonder why on earth would I feel this way. Am I nuts?

Well, I could either celebrate the one-year anniversary of my ASD diagnosis, or … I could wallow in self-pity and sorrow for being wired this way.

I can’t imagine being any other way. I used to on occasion wonder how I would’ve “turned out” had I been raised by two people other than my parents.

It had always been difficult to imagine that I would’ve turned out differently, even though humans are largely a product of environment during our formative years.

But I could never imagine me not being me no matter what environment I could’ve grown up in.

I think it’s cool to be on the Autism Spectrum, even though the masses of people see this alternate operating system as anything from sad, unfortunate and pitiful to – as a certain major autism organization has pitched – tragic.

In addition to my thinking that autistic brain wiring is rad, my diagnosis has also enabled me to forgive myself for not showing more empathy in past situations.

It’s allowed me to be easier on myself for getting too “confrontational” with loved-ones.

My ASD diagnosis doesn’t 100% absolve me from any past undesirable behaviors, but at least it provides — to some degree — an explanation that’s different than having some personality flaw.

There are autistic adults who will never know how to pour themselves a glass of water or be able to tell their mother they love her – not even with an augmentative and alternative communication device.

There are autistic adults who will always need assistance with toileting, who will never speak and who will erupt into a rage at the slightest change in routine.

Autism, like many conditions that affect the human species, comes in many different presentations – dare I say degrees, grades or levels?

Some autistic people will always need a very substantial amount of support on a daily basis, while others are at the opposite of this continuum, for lack of a better word: They are fully self-sufficient, running businesses or supervising employees, may be parents or taking care of their aging parents, even conducting autism assessments for a living.

Don’t feel bad for me. I embrace my Autistry and will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of my Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.

However, there will be no balloons, party hats, blasting music or even other people.

It’ll just be me, alone in my house, feasting on a delicious meal. That’s all the celebration will be.

I was going to go out for a steak dinner on a completely empty stomach to allow for a large consumption of food – but, I decided to just celebrate at home with Whole Food’s meatloaf and mushroom gravy, and loaded potatoes and green bean casserole.

A dessert-type food has not yet been decided.

I think and see the world differently. I’ve always known this, but had always attributed it to being artistic, exceptionally creative and imaginative, and very intelligent and analytical.

I also had attributed it to simply my personality – me being me.

I could choose to spend the rest of my life treating the diagnosis as a cross to bear and a wicked curse, and forever question why I ended up with such a scourge while four siblings turned out “normal.”

(A fifth sibling is highly suspect for being autistic but, to my knowledge, has never been evaluated.)

Or, I could be a self-advocate and work on teaching the world that autistic people should be welcomed and accepted, and valued and appreciated for the gifts they can bring.

Which route do you think would be better for my mental health?

One must wonder just how many of the world’s inventions and artwork over the past 10,000 years were created by autistic people.

We will never know. However, I stand firm with this declaration of mine:

The world needs autistic people. Like, who ELSE is going to invent warp drive?!

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical and fitness topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. In 2022 she received a diagnosis of Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder. 


Top image: ©Lorra Garrick