the progression so far

for my own curiosity and organizational preferences; here are the captions ive shared on social media in the past few months related to autism and my own personal discovery. for the sake of length, I may do a post per each month’s captions.

I started on august 25, 2020.

“I switched to public today and edited my bio recently to reflect a little more authenticity. after confronting an actual ASD diagnosis in march (although i was expecting it) i’ve done a lot of work to sort out what it is to be on the spectrum but also how that aligns with myself as a speech language pathologist but first and foremost as a human.

i’ve been so inspired by accounts on tik tok and insta within the neurodiverse and queer community that i want to start to explore my perspective a little more publicly so maybe i can better connect with those around me and educate some strangers in the process.”

august 27th 2020

“gender is totally imaginary and arbitrary… unless you’re looking at diagnosis statistics for autism. THIS is the short answer for why it took me until age 25 to obtain a diagnosis.

there are really three perspectives i have to share on why a diagnosis may be so delayed/difficult for humans like me.

1: the general population/social perspectives & stigmas impacting access to healthcare & services
2: the SLP/professional perspective and evolution of early intervention practices/research
3: my individual experiences

-historically, ASD diagnoses have been insanely more prevalent in “boys”. this has perpetuated characteristics such as poor social skills as some of the main *features* presented by ASD and it’s impact on development.

“girls” on the spectrum, like myself, may have very “typical” social skills. I have strong interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences which seems counterintuitive to the stereotypical ASD ideas. (if you haven’t heard of the different types of intelligences researched by eric gardner+ give it a search)”

august 29th 2020

“i worked PRN at a skilled nursing facility on the coast today and soaked up every bit of sunshine with all the driving & some traffic selfies.

i also belted out all of my fav acoustic ballads. this always feels cathartic and fun but with my neurodivergent SLP brain i also spend the time analyzing what my vocal folds are doing and what they aren’t doing. i include vocal glides and breathing exercises between my fav parts.

i try to match the pitches and think about the different articulatory placements i hear with different pronounciations.

being on the spectrum for me includes difficulty regulating autonomic body functions to the point where sometimes i have to remind myself to breathe (leading to anxiety of “what if my body forgets to breath but my mind doesn’t notice”) and i frequently get really obnoxious hiccups that can be painful (like my entire diaphragm slams into itself). doing all of those breathing/vocal exercises increases my awareness of my overall system i use to breathe/eat/talk/etc, and helps me to know what to do with my body to calm it when those systems start to tense or “stop working”.

if you’re not an SLP that sounds super weird i’m sure but if you are an SLP, that’s how i have given my best cues to patients in voice, articulation, and dysphagia therapy; by messing around with my own awareness and coordination of those structures.”

august 31st 2020

“a diagnosis story is honestly a never ending cycle of new discoveries both internally and medically; ASD is way way way more than just a social communication disorder. it is something that has the capability to affect all systems of the body/development and does so drastically different from human to human. comorbidities are often under emphasized or just unknown to people outside of the autism community.

my comorbidities so far include fibromyalgia, insomnia, anxiety, depression, PTSD, PCOS, PMDD, and some other stuff. my hormonal disorders most likely aren’t related however i have read a lot recently of other women on the spectrum noting a pattern with asd+fibromyalgia+chronic fatigue syndrome. (i’ll share a podcast episode on my story)

much more to say on that at a later time; here’s the start of my on going diagnosis story…..

so growing up i met all my milestones etc but we were premature triplets so as an SLP, the fact that i’m on the spectrum definitely makes sense with the case history. at one point my pediatrician recommended my mom read the book “how to deal with my high maintenance child” specifically to deal with me and “meltdowns” etc. LOL NO THANKS

by the time i was in undergrad for communication disorders and linguistics i had an inclining that “hey, a sensory diet would have been cool for me” but that’s about as far as i thought about it.

by grad school my exposure to ASD and my education on ASD had increased exponentially but i was still thinking of myself as neurotypical with some interesting sensory based similarities to ASD and thought nothing more of it.

when i started my clinical fellowship year and spent time in a few self contained preschool classrooms i saw more and more similarities with myself and my students/people on the spectrum and begun to realize that most of my coworkers actively did not resonate with the same things i did. (i have a lot to say on ASD and early intervention/early childhood special ed & the impacts of self contained preschool classrooms but i’m saving that for later).

fast forward to fall 2019 i was working at a children’s hospital and primarily found myself working with ASD patients and families.

In march i pursued mental health care for the first time in my life and during the very first appointment with my new psychiatrist she validated/confirmed/diagnosed what i realized and had been whispering to myself for a couple months prior; autism.”

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