I had wanted, for some time, to tell my story of growing up in an era when autism was not a word that was often heard. The occasional enlightened psychologist or psychiatrist may have come across the work of Leo Canner or Hans Asperger, but other than this, the conditions we now know as autism and Asperger Syndrome, had not yet permeated into public awareness. In fact, autism did not become a diagnosable condition (DSM) until the early 1980s, and Asperger Syndrome in the 1990s.
Yet, even in 2018, there are people who still believe that autism is a childhood condition. This is, however, changing, slowly. Greater numbers of older adults are being diagnosed these days, in their 40s, 50s and possibly even their 60s. I was diagnosed in my late 40s, and this was, possibly, the most pivotal moment of my entire life. Finally being able to understand why you are the way you are, and why you react to things the way, you do is so freeing. For me, having an autism diagnosis was like starting an exciting new life, one that ten years on, I am only just beginning to understand.
But returning to my memoir LOOKING FOR NORMAL: AUTISM and Other Complicated Stuff, I have written as honestly as possible about my journey from dysfunctional childhood, to independent adulthood. I have discussed at length, and with a large degree of dark humour, my trials and tribulations in the music business, the advertising business, my relationships, my social awkwardness and mental health issues.
My autism journey may not be exactly the same as anyone else's, but then, as the somewhat cliched saying goes, "when you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism!"