Congratulations! You're autistic.
On getting a late diagnosis of autism at the age of 40
I’ve rewritten this post twenty or so times in the past year. You know it’s an important one when your typing fingers try to say everything but the actual thing your whole self must name. Not because anyone else necessarily needs to hear it. Because you must hear it to integrate a new truth. Because living in alignment with our whole self can never happen without telling ourselves the actual truth.
I found out earlier this year that I’m autistic.
Did not see that coming.
The irony is that we started The Thread here on Substack last August just as I walked through an ADHD diagnosis. The last decade of my life has been about pulling the threads in my own life and it’s always led somewhere challenging and healing and good. So I thought we’d write about that in this space.
I had zero idea it would lead to this much freedom. This much healing. This much goodness.
I look forward to trying to put it all into words in the near future, but for now, I just wanted to tell you.
*Cue a huge joyful grin because as I sift through internal ableism and grief — I am happier and healthier than I ever imagined. Simply because I KNOW.*
It felt meaningful to share it with the community I serve this past Sunday. Here’s a clip of that message. I knew it’d be a little emotional but even I got caught off guard over how much it meant to come out as autistic. How freeing and beautiful it is to embody more of yourself.
Here’s what I shared with my Facebook community
Friends, I want to share something with you that means a lot to me. A year ago, I started ADHD medication and experienced a massive shift in my internal world as my busy overwhelmed brain got the much-needed support it needed to thrive.
A few weeks later, I started to notice other traits that had always been part of my life but got buried by the ADHD.
In a wild turn of events, I found myself sitting with my assessment team on an early January morning this year.
“Congratulations!” They say through the zoom screen.
“And you scored off the charts for covering it up.”
As I rock from side to side, tears stream down my exhausted cheeks. “There’s a name for all that’s been happening in you for forty years. It’s autism.”
I take a deep shaky breath and smile at my two assessors, a husband and wife team from New Mexico. Their genuine encouragement crackles through my laptop speakers as they say, “When (and if) you’re ready, know that you choosing to share this will set others free too. We all can reduce the stigma around autism. There’s so much we’re still learning about it. It’s far more than the narrow perception most have of it.”
It’s been a huge gift to enter this part of my story in this past year. I’ve written often about my relationship with anxiety and panic attacks. Finding the source of much of my internal overwhelm has been a game changer.
I’m a writer so there’s much more to say in the months to come, but for now, it felt time to share this with you.
I shared it with the church I serve this morning and they were unbelievably gracious and supportive. When I said yes to this appointment, I promised myself I would slowly figure out how to embody the role as an autistic pastor. I’ve got a long way to go toward sustainability, but to realize I’ve got a community around me that’s willing to do the work to unlearn stigma and learn neurodiversity makes me cry with joy.
I am proud to be an autistic mom, wife, sister, and daughter. I am honored to be an autistic pastor, writer, and poet. It’s challenging on a million levels that most people never see but it’s also my superpower.
I’m committed to doing my part to normalize one perspective on the autistic life for anyone who wants to follow along.
I’ve got lots of love for all these younger versions of myself who figured out life without some super key pieces of information. So very proud of her. And all that it’s taken this past year to pull this thread.
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