When I was diagnosed with autism at fifteen years old (three of my younger siblings were diagnosed in 2005 also), I felt quite alone and excluded from most autism programs. What was known about autism twelve years ago wasn’t nearly as much as today. Many autistic support groups had a cut-off age, and it was rare to come across an article that didn’t describe autism as a ‘childhood’ condition. Very often people would get puzzled when they heard that I was autistic and would ask “Haven’t you outgrown that yet”? In truth autism can’t ever be outgrown. If a person’s support needs (that aren’t age related) lessen as they get older, all it means is that conscious exercises they’ve learned have become habitual.
At the time when I was diagnosed with autism I was told that I’d never be able to work due to my anxiety level. Anxiety certainly has hindered me. Yet it’s been my dream to be a public speaker and writer, as well as being able to do all I can to create a support group for every autistic person in the age group that tends to get overlooked the most.
I’m currently doing talks at seminars to both gain experience for my speaking career and to spread awareness of these future dreams. At this moment me and my family’s support group is on Facebook only. But once we gain connections and have more people to support we’ll definitely take this out into the outside world.
In addition to my speaking and writing I’m also a participant in two research studies of human memory; with the University of California Irvine and the University of Queensland.
After two years of thorough testing by neuropsychologists from the McGaugh/Stark lab at the University of California Irvine, I was identified as having HSAM (Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory). This makes me unable to forget any day of my life since I was a newborn child. However autobiographical memories are merely one kind of human memory, of which almost everyone possesses. They’re recollections of what we’ve personally experienced in our lifetime, through all of our senses and emotion. The only difference in a case of HSAM is that we seem to have an unusual inability to discard all or most of them. Though a person with HSAM is never guaranteed to have an exceptional recall in all categories of human memory, which is in truth very multilayered.