I’m one of the inbetweeners.
No, not a character from the popular British sitcom The Inbetweeners. I’m one of the people diagnosed on the autism spectrum who doesn’t seem like it. Sure, when I was three and organised my Legos by colour and size, that may have been a giveaway. Or when I mainly spoke in quotes from The Simpsons.
“But you don’t seem autistic!” they say. Good point, Captain Obvious. I wonder why.
I had the traits you may think of as a kid, but moving through the world as an “adult”, I find it difficult sometimes to identify myself as a person on the autism spectrum. To be frank, I don’t always feel connected to my diagnosis, since I don’t remember much about it or my “autistic traits”, being only three years old when the diagnosis began.
Maybe it’s because I’ve gone through 13 years of the mainstream schooling system.
Maybe it’s because I’ve learned to communicate through acting – hence why theatre is my “special interest”, and also my major at university.
Maybe it’s because I took the bigger steps when I was little through early intervention, and only remember bits and pieces of my meltdowns and sensory overload.
Maybe it’s because I now call those meltdowns “panic attacks”, and it seems more understandable to those who try to help me.
Maybe it’s because I haven’t fully connected with being an Aspie.
I don’t outwardly fit the criteria for a person on the spectrum. I also don’t outwardly fit the criteria for a neurotypical person.
I’m an inbetweener.
Internally, of course I know I’m the way I am because I’m an Aspie. I don’t think it’s regular to get so worked up about the thought of a hypothetical panic attack in a mosh pit. Nor is it regular to have your friends create a “sarcasm tag” so you don’t take offence to their jokes. However, I have somehow managed to make a mask that is difficult even for me to detect. I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve become too comfortable acting “neurotypical”. More comfortable being a mold of a personable, energetic person as opposed to being my reserved self. How does that work?