From denial to acceptance: Diagnosed with autism at 24

January 15, 2019

This is a post by Autism Speaks staff member John Taylor. For more personal stories and information from experts about an autism diagnosis as an adult, view our tool kit here.

Sometime when I was in my early 20s, my father showed my mother a magazine feature he read about Asperger syndrome and said something like, “Doesn’t this remind you of John?” She agreed and took me to see some professionals at the Seaver Autism Center at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.

After a series of tests, they diagnosed me with autism at the age of 24.

Growing up, I often excelled in about every subject other than math and for a few years was reading well above my grade level. However, I also had an IEP which included being placed in a Special Ed class for 1 year in elementary school and extra time on tests until I graduated high school. Depending on what age, I had intense interests: trains, basketball, linguistics, etc.

I also struggled to find a job even after graduating college. These are some of the reasons that my mother brought me in to be diagnosed. I was in denial at first.

To this day, I haven’t seen the movie Rain Man, but my perception of autism was mainly shaped by what others had told me about the movie. Basically autism made you some sort of socially inept mute (or almost mute) savant. I was intellectually gifted and often struggled socially (a nerd you could say), but certainly not like Dustin Hoffman’s character.

As they say, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism”. I slowly came to accept my diagnosis by connecting with others on the spectrum. I started attending social skills and support groups. On the Internet, I discovered the autism blogosphere and YouTube videos by people with Autism.  I found their personal experiences about life on the autism spectrum to be a lot more relatable than what someone off the spectrum, however educated about the facts, could tell me.

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