Kimberly is an adult with autism who shared some of her day-to-day experiences with Gaia.
Q: How has your life changed since you were diagnosed?
Kimberly: Since recently re-evaluating my diagnosis as an adult, I have started to look at life as something that is a little less time-intensive. I take things slow and am more patient with myself and others. I cope with things as they come and am sure to take time to disconnect, reflect and recharge before it gets to the point where I am feeling overstimulated.
Q: What is one challenge you face on a day to day basis?
Kimberly: Eye contact, interpreting non-verbal cues, remembering social graces (ie waving as a greeting, addressing using names, hand-shaking) and engaging in polite speech.
Q: How does the communication barrier impact your life?
Kimberly: It often affects my ability to advocate for myself/ask clarifying questions when I need them at school and at work. It can also make it difficult to articulate my feelings in order to resolve issues within personal relationships. This can lead to misunderstandings building up and getting out of control over time. Unpacking the bigger issue can be overwhelming for everyone involved.
Q: How does being around other individuals with autism enrich your life?
Kimberly: It helps you to see the world from a more practical and often creative perspective.
Q: What is one misconception that people have about autism, and how does that make you feel?
Kimberly: That people with autism do not crave, or cannot form meaningful relationships- especially romantic in nature.
Q: What can we as neurotypical people do to help?
Kimberly: Patience is important. Look for the signs that I may be struggling. If you are not sure, verbally ask me. Be sure to do so calmly and in private so I feel safe to share my true feelings. This is usually the best, and sometimes only, way to know if I am struggling.
Q: What is one thing you want the neurotypical population to know?
Kimberly: Autism is, at its core, a condition where people have different interpretations of sensory stimuli. We go through similar experiences and the difference lies in our way of integrating our senses. We are simply trying to get through the day, and navigate our world just as everyone else. We are not that different- we are all just people trying our best.