When I received my diagnosis I was initially relieved. Finally, I knew why I was “different”. That feeling did not last. As the reality that I am autistic sank in, my core identity began to crumble. Meltdowns replaced my angry outbursts. I became very confused. I felt bombarded by stimuli such as bright lights, which have always been difficult for me, now became paralyzing. This slowly became easier once I understood what was happening.
The initial label I was given was Asperger Syndrome. Everything I had read was accurate. Then, I began to become uncomfortable as it registered with me that the label Asperger Syndrome was for a disorder described in DSMV. Since I do not have a disorder, but am a different neurotype, I chose instead to use the term HFA or high functioning autistic. This label was comfortable until I watched an Ask An Autistic video that focused on the label issue. It was then that I realized the HFA label has an implied judgment “I am higher than you”. Higher in what? Now I am a 74 year old autistic man and I am comfortable!