I asked my mother this.
"Why didn't you ever have me tested when I was a child?"
I'd been thinking on it a while. I'd been asked it before (in several, different serious discussion about my brain with different close friends, so not in an offensive way at all). (But it seemed odd that several friends would separately think that and my family, who I am very close to, would not).
Looking back, there were things that I did that maybe were not all that normal...
I distinctively remember my parents teaching me how to smile and making me practice (and I do not have particularly early memories).
I went to speech therapy in kindergarten because most people couldn't understand me when I talked.
I was told not to cross the street without an adult present, so I didn't--not until I was well into high school because it was against the rules.
And things like that...
I think there were several reasons why my parents never thought I was odd enough to have me tested.
I was the oldest child, so my parents weren't entirely sure WHAT you are supposed to teach children.
Autism is genetic, often, and we definitely see autism-like traits in my mom's side of the family (or at least I think so, so some things were normal for us. I did excellent in school and always had one friend (except middle school) and generally seemed pretty happy, so no one was concerned. I'm a girl (so less likely to get diagnosed in general), and I went to a small private school so we didn't have support staff and counselors or such that might look for this there (from what I've read, it seems like a lot of people have school guidance counselors or school psychologists notice hints or signs, and we didn't have any of them).
And last, my mother's response: "What were they going to do? Tell us you were bad at reading body language and faces? We already knew that. That's why we taught you it."
I'm not 100% certain what to think of that response, admittedly. But they did a lot. They did a nice job raising me.
They taught me a lot of the rules. And they didn't just teach me rules, they taught me whys along with the rules (usually), which helped me to generalize them more than I would have been able to otherwise.
I learned lots of social rules. I learned lots of life skills. (In fact, I learned more than my sisters... For some reason only I was taught to do laundry and cook, and my parents never got around to teaching my younger sisters... *). I am excellent at grocery shopping. In fact, I am a grocery shopping pro. (Assuming I have lists and I know the store, admittedly). I learned cheats for conversations. I had an excellent family with a lovely safe space where I could be my normal and not worry about what other normals were. I was always taught to be myself, (at least in private, there were sometimes stricter rules about appropriate public behavior, which is partially leftover from other things, I guess, which might be talked about later).
And when I eventually brought up to them that I thought there might be something different with my brain, that I thought I might be autistic, they researched it. And agreed maybe I would be. And asked if I wanted to get tested. And researched the pros and cons of diagnosis (and were unusually concerned that if diagnosed, I would not be able to join the military, which is something I have NEVER expressed interest in). And then called (I really, really hate phone calls and I am very bad at them) and set up an appointment for me. And have been wonderfully supportive overall (although they do have a slight tendency to refer to it as "the Aspergers", which is mildly amusing, although incorrect).
So even if I wasn't tested, or maybe even because I wasn't tested earlier (I've read about some scary things happening to diagnosed people), I think I've mostly turned out alright.
* but then again, my parents also somehow neglected to teach my youngest sister not to microwave metal, so there were a couple things that maybe got overlooked. My parents are good parents, though. Just sometimes things get forgotten or overlooked.
Labels: autism, autistic?, me, my parents, Random, testing