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I didn’t rock in anxiety, I didn’t speak in a monotone, I laughed and danced and engaged with people, showing interest in their work and passions.Here the common misconceptions about autism were both my ally and my enemy: they allowed me to hide, and to embrace a status as “off-key yet normal,” but they also damaged me by giving fuel to the lie that I was just a bit odd, making it all the more difficult when it blew up in my face with someone yelling: “What the hell is wrong with you?In the years between twelve and nineteen, I had taught myself a lot — forcing myself to go out and read faces as you would a foreign script, learning to figure out certain movements and postures.But it did not come naturally to me, as it does for most people.Sometimes I feared the mask would slip, that I would be discovered, but I seldom was — although sometimes in conversation, someone would develop a puzzled look on their face.My boyfriend called me “adorably awkward,” but in earlier years at school, my awkwardness had never been adorable.I wanted to keep my other side secret, or at least attempt to play it down.
She likes looking at community notice boards (actual ones, outside churches and village halls) and talking to random people.
Still, as a nineteen-year-old, newly at University, I could for the first time in my life “pass” for normal, or neurotypical.
I felt a bit like a fraud, but it was also exciting to move among my peers and feel, for the first time, fully accepted as one of them.
The language of the body, that which makes up an estimated 60% of communication, was almost closed to me.
So instead I fell back on words — the safety of which I could understand, as their clarity left nothing to puzzle over or decipher.