The statement in the title is not only an admission of recent diagnosis, as a 42 year old man there is so much comprehension to do about the past and why life was as it became.
Times were rarely simple as a child. I'd not join in or interact very often with the other kids, and as a result my quiet behavior was seen as a weakness, and being bullied became my reward.
Of course hardly anyone had heard of Autism back then, and kids like me were often looked upon as being "Difficult" or "Odd". I'd often get fed up with this and would take it upon myself to just go home from School midway through the day. I'd studied the layout of the premises and found a way to get from my class to the gates and beyond, and permission to leave class and go to the toilet was my Green light to freedom.
Once beyond the gates I has an intricate route of back alleys and gardens, and without so much as a hint of being spotted I'd be indoors and 'safe' within 20 minutes, albeit a little grazed and out of breath. My School would go into panic at my disappearance, and search parties would be sent out, but ultimately after a couple of episodes they figured out my whereabouts and stopped my unaccompanied visits to the lavatories.
At the time I didn't understand why I was behaving the way I was, or indeed the emotions that were driving my compulsion, but slowly now the layers of my younger life are being peeled away and a degree of reason is finally being given to some of my behavior.
I can recall distinctly as a 12 year old being taken to Majorca on a family holiday. For weeks my Father and I talked about all the things we would do.. Archery.. Tennis.. Diving.. the list was endless. But as soon as we touched down all I wanted to do was go home. The unfamiliarity of the surroundings was overwhelming, and much to my parents disgust I made the holiday a miserable affair while retreating to our room and praying to anyone who might be listening to get back to a more familiar domain. It was 12 days of misery and pain in a place most youngsters would have been in their element, and I didn't understand my feelings either.
The tell-tale signs were there all along in truth. Lining up cars in rows, nonsensical issues with the small variety of foods I ate and how they were cooked, and the desire for the same plate, ketchup and time of day for my meal. Naturally no one even dreamed these were signs of anything but a child being laborious, and I was duly punished for my behavior and tested in my resolve by my parents who'd put different Ketchup in my bottle or change the brand of my food. Of course given my condition, and it's penchant for attention to detail, I'd notice every time much to their huge aggravation, but as you grow older without diagnosis or understanding you learn to adapt, conceal and suffer in silence to avoid further pain.
Life evolved for me in a 'normal' fashion with exams completed and a job in a Supermarket attained. Every day I would battle with my preference for social withdrawal to face the hoards that came to shop. I learnt to control my anxiety though means of mental bribery or self inflicted pain, and in truth I carried on to have what was a better than average career path for someone with an Autistic spectrum Disorder.
It's been a great journey to reach the place my mind resides at today. Am I bitter or upset at the way I was treated as a child? Probably yes a little, but in calmer perspective only very few understood where these behaviors or emotions developed from back then, so it's probably a little harsh of me to judge with too much disapproval.
In diagnosis just this month I have 42 years of behavior, reaction, emotions, pain and enjoyment to make sense of like a 42000 piece jigsaw, and half of the pieces are plain Blue sky!
It won't be a quick job , and to be honest I don't think my parents will ever fully understand or comprehend, but as this new age of greater acceptance and understanding dawns I will try my hardest to take time to explain to anyone who cares to listen.
My name is Simon and I am Autistic. Thank you for reading and accepting me for who I am, and my gratitude and respect goes to all that understand that people of an 'ASD' diagnosis can be Writers, Painters, Accountants, Lawyers, Spacemen or any other role in life that their heart desires.
You can find out more about Autism by visiting the National Autistic Society at: http://www.autism.org.uk/