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This Is Me: Beautiful, Complicated, Me

For as long as I can remember, I felt different from everyone else. I didn’t know how to properly communicate with other people, and as a result I was mostly by myself. I had friends, but I never had a clique to hang out with. I was reserved, quiet, and kept to myself and because of this some people would worry if I was depressed, because to them I looked sad all the time. Even when I do try to socialize with other people, my communication skills would cause me to go overboard and overcompensate. As a result, I created a bad impression of myself as being clingy and possessive.

If that wasn’t enough, I struggled academically as well. Out of all subjects, my most challenging subject was always math. I didn’t know why at the time, but when it came to mathematics I could understand what was going on sometimes. Part of it was because I didn’t have glasses yet to see the board, but a big part of it was simply me not understanding the concept at the same pace as everyone else. Because of this, I was placed in afterschool programs and eventually I was placed in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) as well. Thankfully, due to this extended help I was able to perform better in school.

Then something happened to me in the year 2017, that changed everything for me forever. My mom told me in the kitchen, that she noticed my inappropriate social interactions with other people. She told me that it might be related to autism, and when I asked her, what autism was, she advised me to do my research. So, I did my Google research and came across an article titled What Are Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults?, which listed autistic traits that resonated with me such as having repetitive or ritualistic behaviors, trouble keeping up a conversation, difficulties with eye contact, talking to everyone the same way, and trouble interpreting facial expressions, body language, or social cues. With this information given to me, I was able to self-identify as autistic. This discovery became solidified even more when I was looking through school documents and came across a Psychoeducational Evaluation Confidential Report that took place back in 2009, where my mom did an interview with an Evaluator name Brian Bacher. In the document, it never fully stated that I’m autistic, but it listed the autistic traits that I have as an individual. For example, Brian highlights my autistic trait in delayed of speech when he states, “…Melissa met all developmental milestones at age-appropriate times, except for her speech development.

Ms. Lushington [my mother] reported that Melissa did not begin speaking until she was three years of age.” He also highlighted my autistic trait in deficits in language comprehension, “According to Ms. Lushington, Melissa also had delayed receptive language and did not appear to understand when spoken to by others.” Brian also highlighted the trait of not engaging in play with peers when he states, “…Melissa does not initiate contact with her peers or her family. She appears to be easily intimidated by social interactions and spends most of her time in her room.

Brian even highlighted my flat or monotonous speech when he states, “…Melissa rarely shows her emotions and generally maintains a flat affect.” Having this self-discovery, gave me a better understanding of myself and I felt relieved to finally have an answer for why I am the way I am. I felt relieved to finally understand who I am as well, to know that all this time that I thought I was neurotypical, I’m neurodivergent.

Another life changing moment happened in 2019, when my college professor Ms. Eva Blackwell offered me an internship to work as a blogger for the Non-Project Organization Verge of Independence Project: Multimedia Autism Advocacy. This is where I wrote one of my early blog posts titled I Am Who I Am, and this is when I really started learning about myself as an autistic individual.

Through research, I started to write a list of things that make me autistic, including new traits as well. I often take things literally, which means that if someone says something, I have to remind myself that they don’t mean it. Most of the time, I have no filter so people sometimes have to watch what they say around me. Most importantly, my brain is slow to process information. This explains everything about why I always struggled with math, but it also explained about why it’s hard for me to follow directions most of the time.

All these revelations allowed me to realize how complicated I am as a person. Because I take things literally, I sometimes make mistakes by assuming things that are not true. Because I have no filter, people become frustrated with me when I share information that no one was supposed to know about. Because I’m slow to process information, people become frustrated with me when I don’t understand them right away and they get more frustrated when I don’t follow directions correctly the first time.

Even though there are things about me that make me complicated, there are other things about me that are beautiful too. It’s a beautiful thing for me to be able to pay attention to important details that no one else notices, and it’s also a beautiful thing for me to be able to use this as a skill in writing. Part of me being autistic, is having an imagination that allows me to be creative in ways that go far beyond a typical writer. My writing journey, has led me to where I am now as a journalist all because of my creative nature that comes from me being autistic.

In conclusion, this is me: complicated, beautiful, me. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t choose it, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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