My name is Elisha (pronounced e-LYE-shuh). I’m 27, and because I had no verbal delays, I am considered “high functioning”, although I find functioning labels pretty useless. I might appear “high functioning” in a quiet library or my own living room, but put me in a crowded, noisy environment and I might be indistinguishable from a nonverbal person.
I do not as yet have a formal diagnosis, although not for lack of trying. I’ve suspected I was autistic since I first learned what autism was, around age 7 or 8. At that time, all I knew was that I could relate to autistic kids, because I just wanted to be left alone in my room with my radio and rocking chair. When I was 17 I learned about Asperger’s and “high-functioning” autism, and this was the first time I realized that “autistic” was a label that could apply to someone who could speak, read and write, feed myself, and so on. I have since tried several times to get a diagnosis, but many barriers have stopped me. When I was 17, neither my therapist nor psychiatrist had ever heard of Asperger’s/HFA, though when I educated them about it, they said it “certainly sounded like” me. It wasn’t until I was 25 that I had access to better care, and seeking an autism diagnosis simply hasn’t been my highest priority. For these reasons and many others, I think self-diagnosis is a valid tool and defend anyone’s right to figure out for themselves who they are.
Aside from being autistic, some other things about me:
- I struggle with depression, anxiety, chronic back and joint pain, and chronic fatigue, and I need to accommodate for these as well.
- I like working with kids, and most of my work has been with kids who have various disabilities. Many of the strategies on this blog were learned from those kids.
- I am in a queer, polyamorous relationship/family. I live with my partner, D, and his other partner, H. They are both also autistic.
- We also live with my two cats – an enormous cat named Jake, and a tiny cat named Dot. While they are not qualified to be therapy animals (Jake’s favorite activity, besides sleep, is to get directly into the path of whoever is easiest to trip), they bring me a lot of comfort and have been unconditional friends when I was at my most alone.
- I am genderqueer. I use the pronoun set he/him/his, but I consider my gender to be neither male nor female.
- I am not currently working. I receive food stamps and state health care. I am not ashamed of this. H is also not currently working. Currently, D has a job and H and I take care of a lot of things around the house.
- I can drive and I own a car.
- H, D, and I share a two-bedroom apartment in central Massachusetts.
- My mother was also neuro-atypical – she was schizophrenic and also possibly autistic.