This post is from Gillian Wilson, an adult on the autism spectrum. This post is part of an initiative on our site called In Our Own Words: Living on the Spectrum, which highlights the experiences of individuals with autism from their perspectives. Have a story you want to share? Email us at InOurOwnWords@autismspeaks.org!
Having Asperger Syndrome has allowed me to do things I would never dream of. I attend a local university, I have a few dear friends and I meet amazing people every day. If someone told me in the beginning that my life would turn out this way, I don’t think I would have believed them. I feel that even though Aspergers has its challenges, I have been more blessed than anything else.
I received my diagnosis at the age of 14 after many inaccurate diagnoses and unnecessary medications. I suffer from anxiety and depression so for a long time my “strangeness” was attributed to these conditions. I had a difficult time making friends, sat alone during break and was bullied simply for not being “normal”. My escape through all of this was writing. I began writing at a very young age and one of my teachers saw something special in my work. My teachers encouraged me to keep on writing and I loved that I had a space in which to express myself. I survived abuse as a child and therefore it was very important for me to make sense of everything through writing. I grew to love paper and pen and I spent all of my time with it, instead of trying to figure out confusing social protocol.
In my second to last year of high school, I was invited to visit a local university. As soon as I saw the beauty that this area had to offer, I simply had to be part of it. From that moment on, I studied hard to ensure a full scholarship and accommodations. I was determined to live in this gorgeous place. People had said, “I would fail at school,” “I wouldn’t become anything in life” and that “I couldn’t do and be anything remarkable”. And guess what? I did everything they said I couldn’t do. I surpassed their expectations and showed them how to make mountains move.
At the same time, I began communicating online with a very dear sister, friend and mentor. She helped me through many of my challenges and I am grateful to her for saving my life. She is currently living in the Netherlands and working as an au pair. The separation from her has been intense. She was the person who encouraged me to further my studies and has fondly told me, “what others think of you doesn’t matter because the only opinion that counts is your own.” She does not even know that I have Aspergers because I want her to see me as an ordinary individual capable of extraordinary things. It is ironic because the child in her care is on the spectrum as well. My friend has been with me through everything and she is the one person that I am closest too. She taught me how to love intensely and completely.
My dream is to become a psychologist in order to help individuals who find themselves on the spectrum. There are not many services available in my country and the few that are, are somewhat inaccessible to those less fortunate. I want other people to have what I do now. It’s not easy to experience rejection and loss because of people’s ignorance. I want to educate the community at large to make them more aware of autism. People with autism have the same feelings as people who don’t. It is just expressed in a different way.
I am currently completing my second year at university. So far there have been a few challenges, but I love every second of it. I am adjusting well to living away from home and academically, I am thriving. I love the library because it is quiet and there are tons of books to read. I learned how to cope with overwhelming situations and avoid events that I know are too much for me to handle. I still write and I enjoy the beauty campus life provides every day.
I feel more in control now. I am in charge of my life and destiny and I want as many people to share my successes with me. I don’t visit nightclubs or pubs and I don’t have a boyfriend, but it’s okay. I want to reach for my dream and make it a reality. Nothing is impossible. There is no mountain that cannot be moved!