It’s 3.30 am and I can’t sleep…

… and that’s actually not uncommon for autistics.

As a teenager I would get up in the middle of the night, having been unable to sleep to find a full-on insomniac party taking place in the kitchen. And by party I don’t mean a literal one obviously (did you not get the memo), I mean the rest of my family had similarly been unable to sleep.

I can’t sleep right now because I’m stuck in a rumination spiral. I hate when my brain does this to me. There is no answer to my problem, otherwise I wouldn’t ruminate; instead it would have a solution, I would think of it, be happy and go back to sleep. It’s all tied into my perseveration. I’m like a train, a literal train (I know that’s a classic autistic stereotype but stay with me). Which means I can’t jump tracks. Neurotypicals are like off-road cars and I’m a Class 58 pulling 100 coal wagons. I’m not going anywhere but straight on.

The results of my daughter’s initial autism assessment came through. It’s really clear cut. There’s not even a hint that’s it’s questionable. Even the bits that are ‘mild’ are above the clinically significant threshold, everything else is ‘high’. So she’s having a full diagnostic assessment as soon as possible – which will probably be this summer straight after her GCSEs.

I had to bite my tongue all the way through the assessment, the psychologist asked a tonne of questions. So many times the things that didn’t apply to my daughter applied to me. I’m so obviously autistic, why didn’t anyone tell me sooner? How have people been allowed to tell me that I “wasn’t trying hard enough” to act like a “normal person”? Why did teachers discipline me for refusing to make eye contact? Why did teachers discipline me for stimming? How is it cruel to tie left-handed children’s hands behind their backs so they have to use their right hands, but it’s OK for you to expect me to rewire my brain to be less autistic? I’ve been brain-shamed my whole blinking life.

Anyway the damage that society inflicted on me is now being inflicted on my daughter with obvious results. I wish I could say she’s the only one – but she’s not.

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