At home, when I was a kid, I talked.
Like, non stop.
Outside, however, I was terrified to speak.
I was anxious about anything and everything,
Had OCD rituals and intrusive thoughts,
And always wondered if I was a human experiment.
I was terrified of powerful energies and strong presences in others, and would hide under tables.
I lived in a fantasy world where it was much easier to dream and hide in books than to work out the complexities of life.
I couldn't make my words come out at school when I started Prep and couldn't move my eyes from the floor.
I used to run and hide behind the brick building at school and not return to the classroom until pickup and nobody noticed I was gone.
It was so uncomfortable and painful and confusing to be in a classroom with 24 other 5 year olds-the energy, even when joyful and excited, felt chaotic.
Sensory input was like someone slapping me on both sides of the head at once, completely stunning me.
If anybody looked at me with disapproval or spoke with a tone that indicated disappointment, I'd shut down.
I hated wearing clothes and mostly got around in my underwear, happily.
I grew up in the country and the bush is the love of my life.
There were times where I heard other children talking about how little I spoke, or how I didn't speak at all.
I wanted them to know that underneath it all, I had a huge personality.
But I couldn't make my words come out.
My most wonderful childhood memories were exploring my grandparent's farm.
My grandfather (my most favourite person in the world) I followed everywhere.
He was a wonderful human being, I couldn't fault him, at all.
My grandmother spent hours baking and caring for her home and others and I loved to watch her.
I spent hours writing stories, playing the piano, pretending to be a teacher with my teddies and professing my love to God (grew up in a Catholic family and wanted to be a Nun, though I've moved on now).
If I had been born a couple of decades later,
I'd be receiving early intervention.
I'd quite possibly be receiving speech therapy, occupational therapy and who knows what else?
I may not have had the opportunities I did to spend the hours I did in the bush, with my Grandfather.
Today, I am who I am.
I never shut up, I overshare, I am empathetic at times to my detriment.
I have wonderful friends, a family, a business and a couple of university degrees (even though I left school without a certificate).
My teens years were bloody hard, but that's a story for another day.
You can NEVER know who a person will be as they grow, develop and evolve.
See your child NOW.
See who they are, not who somebody tells you they should be.
Support and therapies can be wonderful, but it's important to assess a child's needs based on the child, not the fact that they have an autism diagnosis.
Autism is not an instant qualifier for early intervention.