My Neurodiversity Journey

I will be 63 next month, according to my date of birth. However, I really feel I am only 6 years old. Why?

What I said to the doctor was “I can no longer cope; I have run out of strategies”Some may say it was a mental breakdown in August 2013.

It was a very kind person, who suggested I may be dyslexic. No way, I replied. I have always thought I had the odd bit of word blindness. Simple examples being, writing few instead of view; how and who, as and has. There are many more examples (correctly spelt I think!) Pronunciation was also challenging with many words and still is today.

Well, the journey of self – discovery commences.

As it turned out, it was “burnout”. I could no longer cope in what is called the Neurotypical world. I belonged in another world and retrospectively a totally different schooling method. Not the linear schooling which the Western Education is based on.

 Another new word I learnt was “masking”.  I had been doing that all my life without knowing just to survive in a very confusing and at times a very hostile world. My definition of Masking is pretending to be something or someone I was not. Just to attempt to fit in.

As we all know this takes up a lot of energy. Another word from our English language I learnt early on was “shutdown”. Another way of describing Shutdown is that the Central Nervous System is overstimulated, overwhelmed, closed and needing a time out from the world, due to sensory overload.

After recharging batteries, back to full on, back into the crazy world of attempting to be normal; whatever that means?!

Let’s start with labels; we must be careful what labels we use to describe ourselves (our own internal conversations) in our language and especially mindful of the language and words others chose to give us.

Examples of words and labels given to me from teachers at a very young age (approx. 5 or 6 years old) include, lazy, thick, doesn’t get it, can’t write properly and the daddy of them all, just stupid!

Get the picture, does this resonate with you?

The effect on one’s own self-esteem, confidence, self-image has lasting affects as we all know. This also makes our sense of self very confusing with lots of frustration.

No real Purpose or Identity, with no idea for the future. Vision, Beliefs were all what my teachers told me. Values, mean what is most important to you, which drives your Capabilities or skill base; which at the end point, delivers your own unique Behaviours in any given Environment whether at school, home, playing or at work.  

Now, where were we?

Yes, language that creates realities that don’t exist.  As you sit down and place your hands on your lap; stand up now and tell me where your lap is? Ah, get it? Language is context bound and not universal.

So, back to my journey of self-discovery and my assessments.

It transpired over a 18 month period, which included hospital checks on my eyes, psychiatrist and special eyes clinics; I finally found out my true Identity and Purpose:- I am Autistic, I am dyslexic,  I am dyspraxic,  I am or have dyscalculia,  ADHD and Meares Irlen visual scotopic stress syndrome.

Note: my choice is to say I am Autistic and I am dyslexic, as this is part of my Identity, as opposed to David has dyslexia or David has a cold. If David did have a cold it would go away. Being Autistic and Dyslexic does not go away. Thankfully, as they are my strengths.

Why do I say strengths, once you accept your deficits; mine include “memory and speed of visual processing” (well below average) “Phonological skills” (Below and well below average) “Handwriting skills & Reading and Handwriting Speed” (Well below average)

However; my underlying ability is embarrassingly high; something that I am still not totally accepting yet.

I am still on my exciting journey of self-discovery and in the next blog I will discuss in depth, language and the abstract terms, such as belief systems, or in my and many others instances, distorted belief systems.

As a Neurodivergent, I like my identity to be easy on the listener as Neuro Autistic & Dyslexic with co-occurring conditions.

How do you describe yourself?

Until the next time, stay safe and be kind to yourself and gentle to those around you.

David Yeoman, Dyslexia Scotland Volunteer