I always knew I was different from other kids. No matter how hard I tried to make friends and fit in, I never felt “normal.” I always felt it deep down, but didn’t know how to express it. No, I didn’t have speech delays. No, I wasn’t physically disabled. I could walk and talk, and to most people I seemed like a perfectly ordinary little girl. The only people who noticed something different about me was my Mom and my Grandma. When I was 3 years old my Mom started doing some research and thought that I might have Sensory Processing Disorder, but my Dad didn’t want his daughter to be labeled. Although I was not diagnosed, it was always in the back of my Mom’s mind.
As a little kid I was not able to figure out what made me feel different, or even how I was different than other kids. Looking back I can now name some things.
- First was my clothing preference. When I was little “comfy clothes” were not a thing. Jeans, lace, tags, socks, hats, zippers, and itchy fabric have always been a problem for me. As a result I preferred to wear dresses. Of course there were times that dresses were simply not practical, and so I was forced; (yes forced) to wear jeans.
- At fourth of July parties I had to wear ear muffs because the fireworks would make me have a meltdown. And usually I would end up hiding under a blanket as well. I wanted to like fireworks. I mean, everybody else liked them. I didn’t get why they hurt me, but not anyone else. Every fourth of July I felt bad because my family didn’t go see fireworks very often because of me. I didn’t know what was wrong with me and tried so hard to act like my siblings but every time I freaked out.
- My older sister recently told me that when I played with her and other kids I always seemed to be confused about what was going on but would try to just go along with it. I am told that I am very literal, and I am not good at imagining things. I always played very realistically. And honestly didn’t like playing. It was just the normal thing to do so I would play so I could be normal.
- As far as school went, I was home schooled until halfway through my sophomore year of high school. Math has always been a complete nightmare, and often I have been told that I am arguing about a math concept, when in reality, I truly do not understand how to do it. I will go as far as to say that math has been one of my biggest struggles in life. Because of my struggles in school I fell behind and felt stupid. I didn’t know why I struggled so much.
- Lastly, meltdowns. This is probably the worst part about growing up with undiagnosed Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. I felt terrible about still having meltdowns when other kids my age, or even younger had grown out of them. I had zero ways to cope with my sensory issues, and when I had a meltdown, and everyone else thought that I was just being a brat. I knew that I needed to stop having meltdowns but I didn’t know how. My family never went to Disneyland and other fun things like that because they were afraid that I would melt down and ruin it. Because of this I have battled depression since I was eight years old. It has only been in that last few years that it has been getting better.
In conclusion, growing up I always felt lost and confused. Trying to fit in, trying to match up. I never knew why I didn’t understand people, or why they didn’t understand me. When I was older, my Mom told me that she thought I had Sensory Processing Disorder. This actually made me angry. I had fought the feeling of being different for so long that I was in denial. I was angry that someone else had noticed it. I just wanted to be like other kids. Over time, I softened to the idea, realizing that maybe someone could help me. I was finally diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder when I was 13. Being a “high functioning” girl, I was not diagnosed with Autism until three days before I turned 17, where I was also diagnosed with ADHD and Dyscalculia.
Had I known about my Autism growing up I would have been able to understand myself more. My parents would have understood me better too. I think that my childhood would have been a lot less frustrating if me and my family would have known.