On Monday, December 22, 2014, I walked into the office of my therapist. I sat down on her couch with my wife by my side. I took a long deep breath and slowly exhaled, waiting for answers to my 36-year-long question. She grabbed her clip board, glanced over the assessments we had completed in weeks prior, looked me in the eye, and uttered three words that changed my life: “autism spectrum disorder.” While the diagnosis didn’t change who I was, it did change my understanding of who I had been. In many ways, I have spent the years since that diagnosis learning myself all over again.
As early as seven years old, I was self-conscious about the differences between other children my age and me. I had difficulty understanding other people, and they had equal difficulty understanding me. It felt like the entire world was sharing an inside joke that I did not understand.
I was extremely stubborn, more so than other children my age. I struggled with change. Simple shifts in schedules ...1