My Autism Diagnosis and How I View The World
Welcome to our latest blog post. Today’s article is written by Koray Hassan. Koray is 37 and lives in South London and wanted to share his experience of what it was like to get an autism diagnosis in adulthood, just before his 36th birthday…
My name is Koray. I’m currently 37 years of age. Autism is something that I was unfamiliar with until recently. Throughout my life I have always struggled but never knew quite why.
I always felt disconnected from the world around me. I struggled to make friends and I was never sure how to act around people in social situations.
When I reached my mid 30s I started to question why my understanding of the world was so different to other people.
When I confided in a friend he suggested I could be on the autistic spectrum. He said I showed the classic signs and suggested I get a diagnosis.
One year later, and after a lot of patience, and one day before my 36th birthday, I was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. On hearing the news I felt a sense of shock but also a sense of relief. For the first time in my life I had found my identity.
From when I was young up until the end of my teenage years I was always awkward. Never having any friends I would always cry when I was unable to “connect” with people and with situations around me that I could never understand.
I developed an interest in history and I would immerse myself in history books for most of my day. School was always difficult. The lessons were hard for me to understand. My teachers picked up that I was struggling in class but a learning disability was never put forward and extra help was never offered. I sat my GCSEs and I failed them.
In my 20s the awkwardness was ever present, as were the tears. This is when change started to slowly occur and it was the time in my life I was experiencing, more frequently, what I now know are meltdowns.
These would and still do occur, in particular at train stations. The overhead lights, the loud tannoys, the hustle and bustle of large crowds, the big yellow train departure times, the uncertainty of getting to my destination at an allotted time, these were the ingredients to a meltdown. I would call my mother on the phone to help calm me down. This always helps when I have meltdowns today.
In my late 20s my perceived failures at life and inability to make friends, not knowing how to tackle social situations, took its toll. I would cry myself to sleep at nights. I would call myself stupid. I could see only two ways out… give up or carry on.
No matter how hard it was going to be I had to make changes. I joined some meet groups and made friends. They could see my quirkiness and they accepted me for who I am.
My love of history never went away and I sometimes bore them when I talk about my favourite hobby. I like to give dates and talk about my favourite historical periods at length.
Next, I found myself a job in retail. This was not easy for me as I struggled to talk to people, let alone random customers. It was the hardest thing I ever did, but I pushed myself to learn. I went back to college and redid a few GCSEs, which I passed.
Although I managed to do well for myself something still wasn’t right. I was still lacking in social skills, still felt different and I still had what, to an outsider, was an excessive interest in hobbies… which is what led to me to investigate further and get my autism diagnosis.
Today I look back on my life experiences with pride. Despite not receiving help or a diagnosis when I was young I managed to overcome major obstacles.
My diagnosis helped me to understand why I was feeling so out of place and why I see the world through a different lens then the way a neurotypical person does. I can now work towards finding strategies to help me deal with meltdowns.
Being a part of the autistic community, I don’t feel so alone any more. I feel happy and feel a real sense of belonging.