3 years with autism self-diagnosis
Autism doesn’t get diagnosed in Uzbekistan often; only severe cases. There is little awareness about autism, no support in schools, etc. It is a sort of thing that “happens to others”, and people generally don’t talk about it.
My son was officially diagnosed with autism here in US around 3 years ago. After reading the symptoms I’ve realized that I, my father and my grandfather must have it too. It was a personal epiphany for me and my wife: it answered many questions about my childhood/youth; explained severe obsession with coding with little interest in friendships/people. This realization helped our marriage because it brought clarity.
Since then it was a slow process of crawling out of the little world I built in my head over 30 years into the real world, where people matter more than code. My wife spent countless hours explaining things that are natural to neuro-typical people, breaking elements of interpersonal relationships down into atoms and articulating all of this in a logical manner so that I can understand it.
I am “more normal” now, but I am currently ambivalent about the results. On the upside, people around me have easier time with me now. I learned to do the small-talk, have conversations that don’t involve coding/work. I am more willing to spend my time helping others even if I personally don’t benefit from it. I can spend a weekend without waiting for Monday, and now I understand people who don’t like Mondays. I was able to talk to my relatives despite none of them being close to computers. I was finally able to organize my wife’s birthday after 7 years of failures caused by anxiety of dealing with real world with so many degrees of freedom.
All of this sounds great, but the irony is that with normalization came the problems of “normal people”. Questions like “what’s the point of all of this?” didn’t really bother me before — I didn’t have time for them because I was so preoccupied with my blissful obsession. Now it turns out that what I cared about the most for 20 years does matter that much; and at this scale, it takes time to process that. It is like leaving a religion. Now I find myself pondering about stuff like in this post for long evenings, instead of… coding.
So people around me seem happier with me now, but I feel less happy currently. This might be temporary, as I learn how to live; or it might be that in the real world everyone is struggling a bit and that’s actually OK. Overall, it seems like a net win.