Saturday, June 11, 2011

When I was diagnosed with autism...

By the time I was first diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, I was twelve years old and in seventh grade.  My sixth grade year had been so bad that my mom chose not to buy a yearbook for seventh grade, because this time of my life had become a time that we could not look back at without pain.

Autism was not the only thing I was dealing with by the time I reached seventh grade.  My ADHD was slipping out of my control and I was acting out, compulsively, in class. The medication I was taking for my ADHD was not doing what it was prescribed to do, and was instead causing psychotic side effects, to the point where my parents refused to give it to me.  I was also dealing with depression caused by a "chemical imbalance."  During sixth grade, my teachers were not taking the time to understand me, and were instead skating me by, without even telling my parents that there was a problem (my parents were outraged when they discovered this).  To cap it all, I was in middle school where, the fastest way to be cool is to put down someone else. I was a prime target for this from many of my classmates, which did nothing to help my depression.

It got to the point in seventh grade where I was taken out of school for a month to re-adjust my medication and be observed in a controlled environment.  This took place in October of 2000.  By that time, my self-esteem was at an all time low.  When I was told that I would be put in a center with people like myself, I was relieved, most of all to hear that there were indeed other people like myself.  The lack of tolerance from my classmates had really hit me hard.  At some point in that month, I remember driving home from this center and being told, tactfully, by my mom that I did not have what they had originally diagnosed me with at age three.  Instead, I had PDD-NOS.  I did not take in the full extent of that name of the condition, in fact I could not recall it moments after first hearing it deeming it as too complex.  I was more interested in the fact that what I was dealing with did in fact have a title, which meant that I was not the only person who had it.  Now that my downhill spiral had been abruptly halted, I could now turn around and start succeeding again.

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