Autism and Who I Am
When I was first diagnosed with my many Anxiety Disorders, I felt like I was wrong, that I was crazy. I felt crazy because I couldn’t shake the anxiety feelings. I knew that anxiety was natural, and that it was just a matter of changing what I thought to make it stop. That’s what Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is all about, right? It wasn’t the sum of who I was, nor is it now. It was a part of me, but not all of me. It affected my life greatly, yes, but it did not change who I was when the Anxiety wasn’t present.
But years later, when I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, it seemed to complete the equation of what I was dealing with. It explained why I saw colors when I heard music playing. It explained why I loved nothing more than to be cuddled up in a large heavy comforter. Why I didn’t like polyester or wool. It explained why I absorbed information the way I did, and also explained why it didn’t come back out correctly.
To me, the way I see the world is unique, and as Stuart Duncanpointed out, this is not any different than the way everyone sees the world. The sum of our life and experiences determines who we are, right? Well, to me, it’s not just your life and experiences, but how you perceive those and the world around you. Your perception changes everything about an experience. It determines if you get mad or sad, happy or excited, anxious or depressed. And since my brain is Autistic, my perceptions are going to be Autistic. And if my perceptions are Autistic, then Autism dictates how I experience events. And if Autism changes my experience, then I believe it means that Autism is a large part of who I am.
Our personality is determined how we perceive, interpret and react. If all of those are brain functions, and our brain is wired differently, then wouldn’t it go to say that our wiring is a large part of who we are? Or in other terms, that Autism is a large part of who I am? I think it does.