>If I could just get rid of this one irky thing, I think I could be a lot more outspoken about autism. Oh, you say that the role of 20-something, cat-loving, autistic spokesgirl for treating people with autism well in college, in the workplace, in life has yet to be filled around these parts? I could do that. I could. But there’s this… this thing.
Guilt? Uncertainty? Oh no. Here we go with those words again. Um… IT has been taken (see this post). I’m going to be lame and going with IT2, if that’s okay.
So here’s how it goes. See, I graduated, Magna Cum Laude, from this great little conservative college, majored in elementary education. Nevermind that I did it falling apart at the seams for 4 years… the academics were beautiful. My classmates are now going on to start their first year in their own classrooms with their own students. Quite a few are engaged or already married. Then there’s me. I’m working 16 hours a week in the photo lab at the local grocery store. I don’t have a license because I was having seizures. On a daily basis, I only see my mom. I don’t “go out” with anyone. Oh, wait, I don’t even want to go out.
I’d love to say that this is just until next year, but no. You see, I didn’t student teach. I was so, so far from being able to do that. My professors all saw it, but I didn’t, and went ahead and… completely, totally fell apart within 2 weeks. Between sensory stuff and social stuff and organizational stuff, it was a nightmare. It was truly hell. I never want to do anything like that again. The problem is that it takes me so long to recover from being out in “the world” that I didn’t even have time to get over being “out” before I had to leave again. That’s why I’m only working 16 hours now. I need that much time to get myself back in order before I can leave the house again. It gives me about 3-4 hours, sometime during the week, to do one other thing. For example, I went to the mall and the grocery store with my mom today. The rest of my “out” time this week will be dedicated to working. All of it.
So I have this fantastic degree from this wonderful college, and I can’t use it. I feel useless. Pointless. What good am I, developing pictures 16 hours a week? Heck, I don’t even do that… sometimes, I go a week without any pictures brought in. My days are spent doing dishes, cleaning up, asking my mom what I can do around the house, doing my laundry, trying to remember to test my blood sugars and failing miserably, watching TV, trying to exercise in the midst of anti-seizure medication stupor, talking to Leigh, visiting Dee’s dogs, and playing with the cat. Just staying on my parents’ health insurance costs three times what I currently make (and no, my parents can’t really afford that either), I don’t work enough to help anyone out that much, and without a license I can’t really volunteer anywhere. I’m… nothing.
Transition, Leigh says, this is all transition. Be patient. It’s not going to happen all at once. I know she’s right, but the IT2 of it all… the desperately wanting to be that which everyone else already is… sometimes, it gets the better of me. Everyone else is off to their jobs and relationships and apartments and… I can’t even remember to get my medications refilled on time, after six years of working on that month after month. When will it be my turn? What if it’s not autism and I’m just lazy? That’s what scares me. Also, if I speak out, then everyone will know all the things that I can’t do. I can’t work full time, I can’t live on my own, I can’t support myself like “everyone else” can. Maybe if I want normalcy badly enough, if I work hard enough, I could have it.
I wish I could do some good for the world of autism… but I guess I’m just too chicken. Too confused. Too… IT3?