John still remembers his final year at elementary school. John drew a picture of a street where he lives, in Portsmouth. The scene he drew had no people in it, but everything else about the picture suggested a talent beyond his years.
The teacher saw the picture, and said he wanted to put it up at the school hall. “And it was an honour,” claims John considering the fact that he was always made to believe that he was no good for anything. The teacher then asked John to write his name of the back, an instruction that seemed like a haunting task for John. He had difficulty with writing, and he knew that his class teacher could be cruel. If he would ask his class teacher to help him, he was just going to say: “Oh, he cannot even spell his own name, what a waste”. So John decided to do it himself.
The teacher then called John to the front of the class, held his drawing in front of the whole class and then tore off the picture, with a remark “he’ll never be anything.” Only because John had spelled his name wrong.
John’s Initial Diagnosis
It was in 2013, John came to know that he had Asperger syndrome, which some may call autistic. John knew that he suffers from so-called “triad of disabilities” to do with social interaction, communication and imagination, or what some call “flexibility of thought”. John further learned that people with autism also have a range of sensory problems, including dislike to specific sounds, odours, textures and tastes, as well as intense dislike to sudden noise. In John’s case everything combines into a complex state of synaesthesia. For him, he understands music like he can touch it and finds the colour yellow as an unpleasant taste.
John’s Official Diagnosis
John was 52 when he was officially diagnosed in an NHS clinic as a branch of the Autism Centre at the University of Cambridge Research. That’s when he started to realize all the incidents in his life was associated with his problem, and it’s not just him, there are many adults who are still trying to figure out why are they different from others around them. If an adult went through a clinical learning disability test, but had an IQ above 70, would be rejected. So these people are left to figure out why they think and behave differently when they are clinically proven normal. According to John, these people are like a lost generation.
Presently there are around 700,000 people living with autism in the UK, a study conducted by the National Autistic Society. This means the ratio is 1:100 of the population. It goes without saying that different people have different difficulties. Some have learning disabilities, while some are termed as “non-verbal” in medical vocabulary. Some are “high-functioning”, which is a sub-group that includes those with Asperger syndrome.
For John, it was a matter of “better late than never”. But according to John, there are millions out there in the world, who may live their whole life, being different from others and yet not knowing why it is so, which is why John is adamant to spread the message, that autism is not just about kids, but adults too.
To read more stories like John, visit autismhub.co.uk.