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ASD part two: still standing, still fighting

Malcolm Streitfeld

Anchor Staff Writer

(Disclaimer: This article discusses suicide and depression. If you are uncomfortable reading about these topics, I recommend you take a moment to consider this before proceeding with the article.)

Last semester, I wrote about how being a high-functioning person affected my early childhood. In this article, I want to talk about how a struggle to be understood and accepted by neurotypical people resulted in my mental and emotional health plummeting during four incidents. So, let's get to the context behind the first one.

Image via by Polina Kovaleva

As I got older, my parents eventually gave me a life coach, who for discretions sake I will call Sally. This was nothing new. I had worked with another life coach in the past and I had a person follow me around my middle school helping with stuff like unlocking my locker. The first incident happened when Sally and I were working on shoe tying, something I had been struggling with for a while. I got so frustrated that I asked if I could take a break. Sally said yes and so I headed upstairs to my room. I then broke down crying because I just wanted to give up on shoe tying entirely. Eventually, I managed to calm myself down enough to head back downstairs and we ended the session for the day. I would come back to learning shoe tying and improve, but it would remain, up to today in fact, a tricky thing for me to master. I do know how to tie shoes now, but keeping up practice has been difficult.

The second incident happened when me and my father vacationed in Provincetown. We were staying at a hotel when I decided to explore the town on my own for a bit. I came across this really cool tourist shop and explored it for a bit before heading back. However, when I got back, I realized I had left something behind. I thought it was a mitten, and so my dad told me to go to the place and retrieve the item. For some reason, this got me so wound up that I screamed and ranted out loud the entire walk over to the shop; so loud that my dad could hear me from the hotel. After I got back, the tensions that come with living in a small space for an extended time came to a head, and resulted in a shouting match between me and my father. I was so upset after this that I went out to the balcony alone and stood there for a bit, looking over the railing at the beach below. I thought about the distance between the balcony and the ground. I thought about jumping and ending it all. I texted my therapist about it and she asked if I was serious. If I was, she was going to call the police. Thankfully, I managed to come to my senses then and there and reassured her that I wasn’t serious. I then reconciled with my father. My therapist texted me afterwards saying that if I ever sent a message like that again, she was going to call the cops immediately.

The third incident is one I may have mentioned in my article on “Machinal,” but I will cover it here anyways. One morning, just after I woke up, I was called downstairs by my father so he could teach me how to make waffles. I wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for it but, not wanting to upset my dad, I went along with it anyway. After he put batter in the waffle iron though and closed the lid, I decided to put my foot down, despite the fact my father had been well-meaning and caring in deciding to teach me this. I resorted to drastic measures. I took scissors out of a nearby drawer and pointed them blade first at my chest. My dad sternly told me to put them down and after a few moments I did so before storming up to my room.

The fourth and final incident is one I’ll cover in the least detail because it's the one I’m having the hardest time remembering. What I do remember is that one night, I refused to eat the shrimp and pasta dinner my dad’s partner had cooked for me and an argument broke out between me and my dad. I went up to my room in a huff and got so mad and upset that appearance-wise I was reduced to a sobbing wreck. I thought about killing myself with a pair of scissors that were in my room. After texting my mom and my therapist for a bit, I was able to speak to my dad face to face and we made up. For a long time following this, all sharp objects had to be removed from my room. There were also times when I was so depressed I would stay in bed under the covers for an entire day without eating anything.

There is a silver lining to all of this though; I’m still standing today. With the help of a strong support system, I have been able to recover and am now once again back on my feet. I have learned how to advocate for myself and now am slowly but surely overcoming the challenges posed by my autism that have caused me so much grief in the past. And if I can do it, I’m sure the countless other neurodivergent people in the world who are learning how to get by can do it too!


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