I will never forget the moment that I knew.
An innate, visceral kind of knowing that left no doubt in my mind and, momentarily, no air in my lungs as the proverbial penny dropped: I am autistic.
If I step back from that moment, mid-afternoon on Monday April 10th 2017, and rewind to think back over the couple of months prior, my journey started innocuously enough. A casual conversation at home with my sister, reminiscing about the alternately funny, frustrating and fabulous traits of a family member. Friendly banter and well-meant comments from an assortment of people about my likes, dislikes, trials and tribulations.
While certainly not screaming AUTISM, these opportune moments introduced me to words and concepts that I’d never really thought much about before (think Asperger’s, social anxiety, sensory sensitivity and more) and combined to create something important in me: a trickle of awareness.
Here follows an illustrative excerpt from my internal conversation during the time that the trickle grew:
“Hmm yeah, I know I am slightly quirky and have a few idiosyncrasies here and there. Sure, socialising is pretty traumatic at times and can suck the life force out of me if I’m not careful to manage it properly. I know I do struggle with some things that don’t seem to phase most people, and then there are the random sensory things that bug me… But that’s just me in my crazy-weird Chloe world, right? Could they be autistic traits? Hmm..!”
That trickle of awareness soon became a flood, and so I did what I usually do when I have questions to answer: I researched.
Serendipitously, early on in my research I saw mention of there being a distinct female presentation of autism. I say serendipitously because I was about to can my research and chalk it all up to experience. Few of the ‘classical’ (read male) autistic traits that emerged from my research seemed to fit, however this female presentation sounded interesting so I changed tack.
It was this change of direction that took me to my moment. I landed upon the writings of Samantha Craft, Tania Marshall and Tony Attwood (amongst others) and read lists of female-oriented autistic traits and characteristics. As each bullet point rolled before my eyes, I felt a mounting familiarity and sensed a resonance that was close to physical. This was my moment, the moment that I knew.
As I sat back in my chair and breathed my first breath for who knows how long, I smiled, because in this moment I had found a friend. In this moment I had come home. In this moment I had removed the strange fuzzy filter through which I had been living in the world all of these years. And in this moment, I was gifted the realisation that, although there is a long and winding journey ahead of me, this moment, the moment that I knew, would be the start of something special.
ABOUT CHLOE PERRY
Chloe Perry is a working mum who lives in Perth’s northern suburbs with her husband and two children. As a recently diagnosed adult female living in a 50:50 neurotypical/neurodiverse family unit, Chloe has a lot to learn but also hopes, in time, to have a lot to contribute.